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​Think of All the Love Signs We Miss

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Think of all the love signs we miss.

Some love signs that we forgot to accept or properly acknowledge, some love signs we forgot to offer.

You know how you sometimes hear the same idea repeated over and over again and never take it to heart until you hear it one more time, and this time it is phrased slightly differently and it makes all the difference in the world? That happened to me last week.

I've long known that I'm not the parent I aspire to be. I snap way too often. I snap period. I never snap or lose control anywhere else, in any other spheres in my life. I'm always professional and friendly at work, I'm never confrontational outside of it. I rarely argue with friends. How come I lose my cool with those who matter most to me?

I'm anxious and they are little daredevils. I'm working full time, but never get a full-time uninterrupted good night's sleep. Our bedtimes often last three hours and both our kids need us to be present in the room for all three hours in order for them to fall asleep. That's been my carte blanche, the one I've issued for myself and carry around as an excuse for my behavior when it's not ideal.

I don't intend to prettify things, I'm pretty sure I'll continue snapping as long as I'm loving them and feeling responsible for their safety, but here's the thing. I saw this sentence on a friend's Facebook wall last week, expressing an idea I was familiar with, but it was phrased differently. I wish I remembered the exact wording, but it went something like this: Listen to your children now and pay attention to every SMALL thing they tell you. What's small to us is BIG to them. It you listen to the big things they share with you today they'll continue sharing other big things as they grow up.

I knew I wasn't the parent I want to be. I knew I snap. I knew I spend more time than I want or intend to on social media. I knew I was tired and anxious and social media is often my self-issued "get out of jail card." I'm not saying that I'll quit social media.

What I am saying is that since I've read that sentence something shifted. I've gone from "I want to be less irritable" or "I should really be more present" to "I CAN be less irritable and more present." I realized I don't need to pay for another mindfulness course to achieve this or read another parenting book, even though I'm not closing those doors. I can start by setting my intentions for the day every single day on my way back from work. As I walk home I remind myself that even though the scenarios in my head merit panic they never actually materialize. Sure, my rambunctious boys end up falling, scraping their knees until they bleed, falling off their bikes and skateboards but I am vigilantly watching and they are protected and while things usually end with tears, that's mostly what it is — just tears. I remind myself that while my husband is easygoing and doesn't resort to yelling to prevent bad things from happening, they don't happen more frequently when the kids are with him, which means I can stay more calm too. My anxiety is not a means of protection and control.

I remind myself that some of their love signs are visible like these flowers my 4-year-old picks up for me so often, even when I'm not home, and that some love signs aren't. I learned just recently that when I'm not home and they're expecting me they keep calling out "mom?" whenever someone walks close enough by our house. And some love signs are missed, like the very detailed stories they tell their absent-minded parent about a BIG SMALL thing that happened like the points they won or awards they collected in the newest video game they play.

I remind myself to keep my eyes and ears a bit more open so that they know that their love signs are accepted and honoured and so that I, in turn, don't miss an opportunity to lavish them with mine. They are, after all, the most important thing.


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