Before my husband and I had children we worked with youth. We would spend hours with them each week. We enjoyed it, and since we were younger than their parents, they enjoyed talking to us and hanging out around us. It was a good thing. We spent a couple of years with these teenagers, and we went through some ups and downs with them. We went through some serious stuff alongside a few of them. One day the father of one of those teenagers told my husband and I that the best thing you can do for someone is to be there for their kid. It sounded nice, but it didn’t have a full impact on me until we had kids of our own.
Now I know…
If you love my child well, you love me well.
I’ve experienced this in so many ways already in my short 4 years as a mama. Jack, my firstborn, my boy, my best buddy. He is my best person! When he was a baby I had to hold myself back from kissing his cheeks all the time. He really taught me how to love. Anyone who loves this precious child of mine is in my heart. You think my son is adorable? You’re my new best friend. You say he’s got the sweetest heart of all the children in his class? Let’s go grab coffee and talk more about my sweet boy. I’m buying! You make a special effort to talk to him, learn what he likes, and go above and beyond to make him feel good — I LOVE you!
I learned this well on a deeper level with our second son, Gabriel. We learned while I was pregnant that he was sick. For as much as it means to me to have someone love my healthy, typical child, wow, it really blew me away to have people love our special needs and dying son. Those people in my life who remembered him, included him, and loved him, they were my heroes. And for the very few who still do — I only wish I could repay them with the love I have in my heart for them.
Fast forward two years later to where our family currently is. We have a precious foster child in our home. We have a sweet little one who has been through some serious stuff that most of us couldn’t even imagine. She has a lot of challenges, more than her share of atypical behaviors, and we are working hard to help her heal. She’s cute and fun and can be very loving now that she trusts more. But because of those challenges, we have a lot of issues to deal with. I don’t meet a lot of people who fight for her with me. Who go out of their way to love on her. Usually, I get the list of her faults and the problems. Not the sweet messages of who she is. Because of that, because I am so used to that, when I pick her up or come home to a sitter, I expect to hear the worst. I brace myself for how to respond. So recently when someone told me how much they love her and how wonderful she is and I saw the kindness they showed her, my heart wanted to burst. Thank you, for being kind to my child. Thank you for loving her well. Thank you for giving me a burst of hope — that she is loved by people besides just our little family.
Just the other day I was out running a few errands. I stopped by to see my sister at work, and I got to witness a really great moment. A woman came up to her and said “You people are just the most wonderful!” It definitely caught my attention, so as I eaves dropped further on the conversation, I saw this woman thanking my sister for loving her daughter so well. My sister and her amazing boss had hosted a flower workshop girls’ night for a group of special needs young adult women. This mom was there to tell my sister and her boss thank you from the bottom of her heart. I could see in this moment what this woman was feeling. While I don’t know what life she has walked and how hard her motherhood journey has been, I can relate just a little bit to that feeling of someone loving your child so well when maybe that’s not what you always experience. It was a beautiful moment, and I’m so glad I got to witness it.
If you’re someone who doesn’t have kids but you love on kids, thank you! From all of us mamas who just want our children to be loved and seen as the amazing children we know them to be, thank you! For those of you who are mamas and are spending your time loving on other people’s children and doing it well, thank you! You know what it means to have your child well-loved, but in case you forget or aren’t hearing it enough, you are doing a great work! And we thank you!