Last summer I took an eight-week women's Bible study course specifically for moms. We talked about parenting, marriage and so many of the ups and the downs as we navigate our way through motherhood.
Each week our leader gave us a little bit of homework and there was one assignment that I will never forget. We were told to go home and ask our spouse what their love language was and in return, tell them ours. If you're not familiar with the love languages, basically they're the ways in which you perceive love from someone. Does it make you feel loved when your spouse buys you gifts? When he helps around the house? Or is it most special when she embraces you, kisses you and welcomes you at the door as you come home from work? The things I may feel as showing my husband I love him may be quite different from what he views as me showing him love.
Fast forward a year -- I’m a mom to a one-year-old baby girl and I'm currently reading a daily devotional for moms filled with inspiration, pick me ups, advice and just a quick dose of daily goodness. Last week, it mentioned the love languages as it related to our kids and I'd never ever thought of this before then but in an instant, my views on parenting quickly changed.
I'd been doing this whole mom thing all wrong and I didn't even know it.
You see, I smother Ava with hugs and kisses and snuggles and often times (well, most of the time) she wiggles her way out on to do bigger and better things. But at least I’m showing her how much I love her, right? All this time I was showing her the kind of affection I view as love and all of this time, she hasn't been viewing it that way.
What is “love” to Ava? She wants me to play with her in her pretty pink princess tent, make animals noises as we make believe with her dozens of stuffed animals and put her babies to sleep together in her crib. She wants me to push her on the swing and come with her in the pool to splash around -- love to Ava is the act of doing things with her.
For the first year of her life, I'd been doing it wrong. I was showing her love the way I wanted to receive it, but that is far different from how she viewed her mama showing her love. In an instant, I knew I needed to change this about my parenting style and now I'm far more observant when it comes to the cues she's giving me, the cues that are telling me what her love language is.
As she grows up, I'm sure this will continue to change and even from child to child, love languages may differ completely. But it is up to us as parents to observe and catch onto their cues so we can show our kids how much we truly love and adore them... in a language that speaks to them.