It was the summer of 2014, and one day, my mom dropped by my house unannounced, I wasn’t home, and through a pure fluke, the boys and I rushed out of the house with the door not only unlocked….but wide open…for hours while we were having fun in the sun at our local water park! EEEEK!
Hours later after our water park rush and leaving our home totally unprotected, I noticed back to back missed phone calls from my mother. As soon as I answered the phone, I get blasted with what I perceived as anger and judgement when I later realized it was an elevated sense of panic and worry. I’ve discussed my mother in law Ruthie before, and like her, my mom is also LOUD. Her tone of voice whether happy or sad, up or down, stays on 10, its just who she is lol! During that phone call, she expressed how upset she was to pull up to my home, call/blow the horn and not to get a reply from me. She walked in and went all throughout the house looking for us because she could not believe that the house was wide open and no one was there! Not only were we not home, but the house was a mess. There weren’t just toys scattered about on every level, there was also the filling from a huge teddy bear one of my sons decided to decorate the house with. And for someone like my mom, who deep cleans weekly, she was abhorred! And she let me know very bluntly on level 10, that “SHE DID NOT RAISE ME LIKE THAT TO BE IN A DIRTY HOUSE!” LOLOL.
Now take me, super proud and super independent … in that moment I was livid! I thought and expressed that she was being extremely judgmental and her drop by discovery of my messy house was not a constant in our lives, but that with 3 small children, boys at that, that a messy house sometimes comes with the territory! That day, it was warm and muggy and quite possibly the last warm day of the summer, so I prioritized having some fun with my boys over cleaning up their messes…the mess would be there when I got back! Right? Right!
That conversation, that was full of high and loud tones from both parties, led us to a sit down heart to heart conversation that tackled the butt of our issue…we did not understand each others love language, and particularly as a child, 32 years of age or not, feeling like your parent doesn’t love you the way you need to be loved can lead you to feeling hurt and misunderstood.
After we got off that phone call that didn’t end very well, I found myself reveling in past regret and bitterness over how I wished she held just as high regard to order in the home and cleanliness to personal, quality time. I found myself misty with tears thinking “there she is so passionate about how I keep my home, I wish she was equally as passionate about being present at my events growing up!” I thought about homecomings when I became Princess of our court, the many band performances, and other little details of the odds and ends of my life that I thought she should have pressed to be there for. I had NEVER expressed this to her before, which was not fair. She had no idea I even felt like this!
We did not understand each other’s love language.
So here was the reality. My mother was and is an extremely hard worker. She is a successful business owner and has been for almost two decades. She has worked long and tireless hours…and what I didn’t know then, is that as she worked through some of my awards ceremonies and other events I was involved in … she did so with pangs of guilt & longing to be there. That in between doing hair as a stylist, she would put one person under the dryer and dash to pick us up from dance class and then rush back. She compensated not being able to be there by ensuring we had our hearts desires materialistically, that we had yearly fantastic family vacations (shout out to Disney World!), the best Christmas’s a child could dream of, and even our Easter mornings resembled that of a small Toys for Tots warehouse. I will FOREVER be grateful for those memories!
I knew that it wasn’t fair to hold what I felt from my mother, so I wrote her a letter and she scheduled a sit down. As my mother and I sat across the table from each other, and as I saw her light skin flush with redness and her eyes cloud with tears, she explained her love to me with a broken voice. We relented to the lumps in our throats and allowed our tears to flow. We hugged, we explained ourselves in love, and we acquired a newfound understanding of each other and a mutual respect of the kind of mom/wife/mother she wanted me to be based off of her own personal expectations and revealed that her own mother was emotionally unavailable. I was able to recognize the challenges she faced as a wife and working mother with five children, and likewise she learned from me that I was ok prioritizing memories over a spotless home because it was just a season that would quickly pass.
The point of this story that I want you all to receive, is to take a moment and evaluate your relationships with your spouses, parents, significant others, and particularly with your children. Your love acts as their foundation. With any strong foundation, when those challenges come knocking at their door – insecurity, self-doubt, bullying, depression, heartbreak and more – that foundation you’ve built will keep them strong! It will hold them steady no matter how hard the winds blow. Your love should mimic the love of Christ and resemble a canopy of grace, constance, and understanding.
But my mother did not know that my love language is Quality Time. I NEEDED to feel like my mom desired to be a part of my life expressed through the sacrifice of her time. When we sat down, she confessed and reassured me of her undying and lasting love, and I knew without a doubt that my mom had always loved me, but I wanted her to love me how I could best receive it. I would have gladly traded in my new Grant Hills for her to come and visit my classroom and have a mommy/daughter date. My brand new Minnie Mouse motion ring I got at Easter (anyone remember those?) was all the envy at school lol, but in the grand scheme of things, it didn’t matter because I wanted her time that I shared with 4 other siblings.
So what is your love language? Your spouse’s? What is your children’s love language? If you don’t know, click here to do a quick quiz by Dr. Gary Chapman with your loved ones so you know once and for all how to properly communicate your love according to their language.
For us parents, understanding your child’s love language helped my older sister, Tamika, and I create the Parent Love Review. She saw the transparency that our mother and I had, and it made her take a step back and wonder, “do my children feel loved by me? Are my children safe in my love? Do my children lack anything from me?” Please find below a helpful Parent Love Review guide that you can use to gage how you are doing as a parent in the eyes of your child.
Thank you for reading and I hope you walk away inspired to love more personally and more intentionally.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)
PARENT LOVE REVIEW GUIDE
Setting the tone
- Sit your children down and let them know that you would like to talk to them openly and transparently. If you have more than one child, set them aside one by one and allow this time to be personal and specifically about them as an individual and separate from their siblings.
- When starting the conversation, take the lead by first letting them know that you love them unconditionally and that you want to be the best parent that you can be to them. State that this is your parental review and this is their time to let you know how you are doing as a parent and that nothing they say will land them in trouble or will be criticized. Compare it to a report card or employee review, make it fun!
Questions to Ask:
- Do you feel loved by me? If yes, ask them to give you examples of what you do to make them feel special. If no, ask them to give you examples of times you did NOT make them feel special/loved. This would be a great time to stop the conversation and take the 5 Love Languages Quiz to help shed light to how your child interprets love.
- What are some of your favorite things we do together? What are some things you would like to do together?
- Do you enjoy time with just mommy/daddy or do you prefer to be with your siblings when we do things together?
- Do I ever make you feel sad or angry? If so, please give me examples so I can try my best to stop making you feel that way.
- How does mommy make you feel most of the time?
- If you were to give me a grade on how I am as your mommy, would you give me an A (excellent), B (Good), C (OK), or D (Needs some work!)
Its important to note that it does not matter if your child is 5 or 55, it is NEVER too late to adjust the way you show your love and care for them. There are many adults walking around broken that can be directly linked to their relationship with their parents or guardians. God’s graces and mercies are new EVERY morning, don’t let another day go by if you are involved in a relationship that is not driven by love.
Happy Valentines Day! Cheers to loving intentionally!