When my boys were small, it was easy to find ways for them to nurture. They all had dolls and stuffed animals to care for and I tried hard to let them hug me whenever they wanted, even when it was really inconvenient or awkward, or snotty, or tiring for me.
But it got harder, when they got older. Dolls gave way to LEGO and cars, then Nerf guns and Minecraft. Time away from me at kindy or school, or play-dates or sport, meant the hugs, while no less enthusiastic, were less frequent. I realised I had to be more lateral in seeing their nurturing: Life had changed and they had grown beyond my initial, pre-baby, plans and ideas.
It came to me in a flash of understanding, a few weeks ago, how much their being in service to me, is their way of nurturing and this is what I now focus on, for this part of their growth and development.
The times when they tell me to sit on the sofa and do nothing, I need to listen to them and do as they wish. And while I have always accepted their offerings of daisies and dandelions picked from the lawn and scrunched in tiny hands, I now have to accept them pouring my wine and cooking my dinner – without my input.
The times they volunteer to do these things, I need to keep my directions to myself and my appreciation flowing – despite my discomfort at sitting still while they work and despite the painful slowness with which they perform these tasks.
I have also learned to accept them opening doors for me. They do this not because they think I can’t manage to do so for myself, but because it’s a way they can show me that they care for me.
And I accept their offerings, not because I think I deserve this gesture because of my gender, or my age, or my position as grand dame in their lives, but because I see it for what it is: Nurturing of me, and something to be valued and encouraged.
Apologies have also become a point of nurturing. In our house, they are seen not as just social niceties and empty words, but as a starting point for repairing a battered emotional bond. After an apology-needing moment they almost always ask, “How can I make things better?” And are wonderful at showing they really do mean their words via their actions. They nurture their relationship with me, as I do with them.
No, they aren’t angel children who do these things all the time. They still need direction and they can be down right horrid. They are often disorganised and they are often messy, noisy and silly. But they do show their ability to nurture in a variety of ways. I just have to look at their actions from a different perspective, and accept their gestures as signs of the loving emotion behind them.
How do your children show you they care?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog from our writer in New Zealand and mother of 3 loving boys, Karyn.
The photograph used in this post is credited to the author.