I don’t suppose I am the only parent who has had a conversation with my children where they said to me “It does not seem like you love me!” In fact, I am pretty sure I said those words to my mom when she was working so hard to raise me!
I can recall many times after she was done punishing me or correcting me, asking me, “Now, do you know why I am punishing you?” I don’t know if it was my first response or one that came after time, but I would wail back the reply:
“Because you want me to be a good boy!”
I am certain that my dear mom wanted me (and really still wants me) to be a good boy. However, now that I am grown and older (and a parent myself), I would probably answer her question a bit differently. I would probably say:
“Because you love me!”
As I have grown and matured and am now older than my mom was when she asked me the do-you-know-why-I-am-doing-this question, I can see things a bit differently.
Love comes dressed in many different clothes. Love does not look like love does in the movies with some kind of camera-filtered romantic glow around it. It does not come in well-scripted packages delivered in perfectly memorized cadences.
In so many ways, love is often disguised in a million different outfits. Yet, if we are looking we can see it. We just have to know that love does not always look like we want it to look. This love is couched in a hard talk, cooking a meal and asking you to help, the removal of privileges, the taking away of your phone, reminding you to do your chores, making you do your chores, the quick correcting look, paying the bills, cooking a meal, restricting gaming privileges, and more. It is asking you who is going to be at the party and wanting to speak to the parents. It is waiting up for you to come home. It is going to find you when you do not come home by curfew. It is setting a curfew. It is refusing to pay for your first speeding ticket. It is not paying for something you can pay for by yourself and telling you to go get a job.
These are examples of love that sometimes do not seem to look like love. There are more. There are the countless ways a parent shows love that are behind the scenes–ones you never saw and may never know about. It may look like a mother wearing an old dress because she sacrificed to get you the new one. It is countless late nights trying to figure out Algebra, wrapping presents, skipping meals, going without something she wants, paying the bills, folding laundry, cleaning the house, packing your lunch, and more. Your parents have surely done countless unseen things to show you they love you!
So, in an effort to honor my mom for punishing me because she wanted me to know she loved me, I would like to say Thank you, Mom, for:
- Giving me chores to do (because I now know how to take care of my own house)!
- Making me practice (because I now know how to stick to something and get better at it)!
- Having me iron my own clothes (because I now know how to take care of my things)!
- Making me work at something every day (because I now know work ethic)!
- Pushing me to get a job and save money (because I now know how to take care of my family)!
- Making me return the things I stole as a child (because I learned accountability)!
- Giving me a curfew (because I learned boundaries)!
- Punishing me for lying and dishonesty (because I learned integrity)!
From my vantage point today, you showed me that all too often, love is doing the hard things that do not really look like love. Truly loving is saying and doing the hard things. True love is sacrificing what is fun, fast, or easy to shape a life!
I know, Mom, that you were just trying to make me a good boy! I am not sure how well I turned out! However, I look back and know more than ever before that you loved me enough to do the hard work of parenting. And I am forever grateful for that kind of love!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who show love in ways that might not initially look like love! The world is a better place because of the love of such brave and caring parents! Let’s celebrate and enjoy all the things that look like love to us! Then, let’s dig deeper to see the multitude of other courageous acts that say it even more!