I live in a house where everyone speaks a different language.
I read the book on love languages before I got married. Fairly easy concepts to grasp, there are 5 basic languages that people ‘speak’ to show and receive love. They include: acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation, quality time, and physical touch. Some people have more than one but most have a primary language that really speaks to them.
Everyone in my family receives love through quality time. I do not.
I love solitude with hermit-like devotion.
I feel love through acts of service. If you love me, then you’ll serve me. I know I sound a tad high maintenance and that might be right.
If you love me, you’ll carry the burden with me. You’ll lighten my load by serving me.
If you love me, then you’ll clean your room when I ask and especially when I don’t. Or you’ll take the kids on Saturday so I can write for a few hours, read that book I’ve had stacked on my side table for months, and take a long bath. You’ll shampoo the carpet when the brown mystery stains begin to resemble continents spreading across the floor. You’ll bring me a meal when we all come down with the flu.
I know that it may seem contrary to a love language that to feel loved, I want to be alone or at the very least surrounded by minions who clean and cook and take care of themselves. But alas, it’s true. Because the rest of the time, if I’m truly being loving, I’m trying to spend time with each of my kids and my husband. I’m trying to pour into them so they will feel every bit as loved as I do when they all leave.
I know as a mother I am not supposed to say that I enjoy when my kids are gone. When my husband shuttles them out and away on a fishing expedition or to the park.
I am not supposed to sigh with deep relief that the house’s walls don’t rattle with the heavy footsteps of youth and energy and need.
I know that I am supposed to breathe it in and love it. Because children are a blessing. And youth flies by so fast and my son towers above me now and it was just yesterday when he could fit in my lap and I get it. I do, I know my life without them would be unimaginable.
And yet, there remains the inescapable stretch of motherhood.
And again, I wish it were different, that I were different.
I wish I got my fill with time together and the doing of life. Yet this is the cost of loving well. The sacrifice of building up those loves. Because to truly love someone, you have to speak in the way their heart hears. And I have never been fluent in this.
How do you show and receive love when the languages are so at odds with each other? When one longs to be close and the other longs for space?
I have felt my time seeping into telling the story of the pumpkin headed man for the millionth time, or the tug on the bottom of my shirt and those molten brown eyes looking up begging for more time, more energy, more of me. My kids want to sit with me, sides touching. Always touching.
And I have resented it. I have wished someone else could fill in for a bit. I have wished they didn’t need or want me so much. I have wondered if homeschooling is the wrong choice for such an introverted person.
Before I had children, I had visions of picnics in the park on sunny days, the leave’s shadows dancing speckled sun rays on our skin. With ripe watermelon, cut thick and dripping. But I didn’t envision the piles of napkins and sticky fingers and the constant warnings to stay away from the bike paths and the fuss and whine of overtired children on a hot day.
I had visions of couch cushions pulled from the sofa and piled with blankets and pillows, a cavern where we would gather and soar with our imaginations. I hadn’t imagined the crumbs, and wad of tissue, coins, and all the lost pens in the house that had accumulated under the cushions. I hadn’t imagined the need to haul the vacuüm out or put the cushion back and pretend I hadn’t noticed. I hadn’t imagined the lecture about not eating in the living room, and my gosh, ick, throw away their dirty tissues!
And then the momentum of an afternoon is swallowed up in lessons and chores and responsibilities. I hadn’t imagined that being the mom who always hung fresh art work on the fridge, listened attentively to every long and rambling tale her children concocted, and always had time to play Lego, would be so very exhausting.
I hadn’t imagined how tired I would be when 15 minutes in the car included 49 questions about everything from what boogers are made of, to what we’re having for dinner, to when we’re going camping this summer, I would just want to turn up the volume on the radio and drown out the curiosity that I had formerly encouraged.
I hadn’t imagined I would feel so guilty when I didn’t love it all. When I didn’t lift the banner of motherhood and exclaim that it is all I ever wanted.
I didn’t imagine I would have to come to terms with both the selfishness in my heart and the intrinsic design of how God made me with all of my requisite needs for solitude and silence.
That motherhood would be juggling and balancing and more often than not, dropping the ball and tripping up.
I thought it would all come naturally if I loved my children.
When we speak, especially in halting pauses trying to decipher meaning and intent of a language foreign, we take turns. We pause and listen and we don’t always get it right. But in these language lessons we’re all foreign tongues. And to speak this language that our hearts hear and know and believe, it takes a skilled tongue and a lot of practice. And a lot of sacrifice.
If you’ve been following my blog, you might have noticed it’s been pretty quiet around here lately. For those who have emailed me and loved on me, thank you! I am doing good but I’ve felt the pull of motherhood and marriage and life (and loving well) convict me of some of the time spent working on this blog. I have never been good at balance and I’m working on finding the right fit for this blog and my life. Please allow grace while I figure it out. Love to you all. And if you have emailed me and I haven’t gotten back to you, my turnaround time is about a week so I haven’t forgotten. Again, grace.