For most mothers, the love they feel for their children is a strong and powerful bond that will continue throughout their lives. The love a mother feels for her child is the same whether the child was grown in their own body or in their heart, as when a mother adopts a child.
My children are dear to me and I find it hard to see them in pain. I feel like a mother hen watching over her baby chicks. Children are tough in some areas, but always need to know they are loved, wanted and are priceless to us, at any age. Even when our children don't need us any longer to tie their shoestrings or to wipe their noses, they still need to know that we care. Often a child will not feel the impact of their mother's love until they become a parent themselves or their mother is no longer living. Then, the power of a lifetime of love their mother provided sets in.
To love and accept our children, even when they are driving us nuts and their behavior is horrid is most challenging. But the mix of unconditional love and loving limits are the most important duties and obligations a mother can have. Hugs and kisses are a necessity. Love can be expressed in many other ways too, including the discipline and responsibility we give to our children. Eye contact and a simple touch on the shoulder or a love pat on the back mean so much and cost so little. Try today to think of ways you can show your children how much you love and value them.
Here are a few demonstrations of love I have found my children are fond of. You can adapt these suggestions according to the ages of your child.
Outward expressions of affection for your spouse such as holding hands and warm hugs are good examples of love and security you can give to your children.
Tuck little thoughtful love notes in their lunches, written on a napkin or notepaper or under their pillow.
Saying a simple, "I love you!" A smiley face or you're the greatest!
Ask them to read to you - whatever they want - for 10 minutes.
Spend time listening - this is sometimes hard with an active lifestyle, but more important than ever. Even 5 minutes can do wonders for a child's self image. Remember good eye contact is one of the keys. Pull yourself away from the computer or desk and sit with them face to face. Mirror their body language, moving forward as they do, or sitting on the floor with them.
For younger children even up to 10 years old, holding them on your lap for a minute or two might seem silly, but most kids miss the times when they were younger and were just held and comforted.
With my teenage son, I ask him to sit next to me as we curl up and watch a movie together on the couch. At 6'2," he rolls his eyes, but he likes it. Now, on occasion, he does it from habit, but not in front of friends. Big kids need hugs too.
Share in their hobby or interest. For example, skateboarding may not be your adventure at 42, but ask them about how skateboards are made. Look at what they can do - kids love to show off to their parents, so watch. Listen for, "Watch this mom!" Put down what you're doing and really watch and praise them for their effort. Encourage them to keep trying. Smile and verbally respond.
Surprise them by buying their favorite magazine without being asked to. Just put it in their room with a little note - Thought of you today! Love, Mom
Take time to lie on blankets on the grass at night and look to the sky for shooting stars together. This is one we do as a family each summer and always have fun, looking up and just sharing, telling stories - listening to the crickets and being together. We fall asleep under the stars until it gets so cold that we all run indoors, dragging blankets behind us. These are no more than simple memory makers.
On occasion we have a "backwards day", where we eat dessert first and then the main course; kids love it when their parents are silly at times.
My ten-year-old daughter loves it when I unexpectedly put fresh flowers in a vase on her nightstand, a surprise when she goes to bed.
Let them make their own family photo scrapbook - try color copying some of photos in your photo albums - this way you are not losing valuable photos if they cut them up. Old cards and gift-wrap can make nice backgrounds and borders.
The best way to let them know you care is to hear it from you. In our family, every day we say, "Did I tell you today that I love you? Well I do and I love you more than all the leaves on the trees or all the minutes you are on the computer." That will prompt them to respond with how they love me more than all the sand pebbles or the raindrops that fell this month. Even the big kids need to hear this. They might act as if they are annoyed, but it is sinking in.
Whichever way you choose to share your feelings remember to do something each day. Experts agree that if a child receives their nurturing inside of the family, they are less inclined to look outside to others that might have other motives. Create a home where love is shown. Any parents, whether rich or poor, can afford this.
These simple and free actions can have a significant influence on our children's daily lives that will last for a lifetime. The cycle of love between you as a mother and your child will be passed on to their children all over again. Stop and enjoy them now. Before you know it, they will be grown and this time will be lost.
Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P. is a Certified Open Adoption Practitioner, an award winning author of 2 adoption books AdoptingOnline.com and Adoption: Your Step-by-Step Guide. Mardie is also the talk show host of Let's Talk Adoption.com with Mardie Caldwell and the founder of Lifetime Adoption in 1986. She travels and speaks nationwide on adoption topics, family topics, infertility and writing. She has been quoted in and consulted for Parenting and Adoption magazines and has appeared on CNN, CBS, ABC, BBC, NBC, and Fox. Featured in Parade Magazine, Caldwell is an adoptive mother living in Northern California.