Why I Don’t Love My Kids The Same (and nor should you!)

love siblings differently

Love expressed through touch

How many times have you heard the comforting, guilt alleviating phrase: ‘I love my kids the same’?

Once baby number 2 arrives it’s a Mantra-To-Live-By. But is it true?

What does it mean to be the ‘same’?

Not different

Exactly like someone or something else

Not changed – exactly like an earlier version

(Merriam-Webster On-line Dictionary)

Am I the only mother that found Baby number 2 was not the same as baby number 1?

He was not exactly like his brother, he was not an unchanged version of the first baby, and I do not love my children the same! They are different and I love them differently.

To do anything else would be my failure as a mother. My children are individuals, not cookie-cutter kids!

Discarding the Mantra

When did I bravely discard the Mantra-To-Live-By?

I’ve been paying lip service to this mantra for 14 years, but it wasn’t until I went into hospital last week that I realised that I don’t have to keep pretending.

Routine surgery is the best description I can find for my hospital stay, but it was only routine for the surgeon! For me, I’ve been attached to my Gall Bladder for 42 years, and although we’ve had our differences lately, I didn’t relish the thought of it being deflated and removed!

However, removed it was, and when my kids came to visit me they’d be excused for thinking I’d been out partying all afternoon! I was slurring with bad-hair, vomit crusted at the corners of my mouth and the attention span of a gnat (and all without having had the pleasure of several bottles of wine!).

The boys approached cautiously, trying to plant a kiss between the oxygen tubing and the IV drip. They looked nervous and unsure of themselves. Somewhere in the recess of my be-fuddled brain I remembered it was my job to put them at ease, so the Mother-Gene kicked in and I asked them about their day, their homework, their dinner.

The trouble was, I couldn’t stay awake long enough to hear their answers. When I woke they’d gone.

Installments of Love

So the next day I tried harder.

I stayed off the serious brainkillers painkillers and stuck to paracetamol so that my head would be clear. They arrived in installments that night.

Biscuit was first, dressed and ready to go to footy training straight from the hospital. He sat in the chair opposite me and we talked. We talked about Naplan, lunch time soccer, Dad’s cooking and how Arsenal were performing. With each passing minute he was re-assured that I was his ‘normal’ Mum and our connection was in flow.

Berry was next, he came after footy training. His small hands couldn’t get the footy boots off quick enough before he – carefully – snuggled under the hospital bed covers. Stroking his face, we looked at my stitches, talked about his day and enjoyed the close proximity of touch. He left re-assured that all was well in the World Of Mum and our connection was in flow.

How did I connect and re-assure both children of my love for them?

By treating them differently.

 Sensory Priorities

How do our children know that we love them? They hear it when we ask about the things that matter to them, they feel it through a soft caress before bed, they see it in our eyes when we watch them play, they taste it when we make their favourite food and they smell it in the soft fresh towels waiting for them after a shower.

Love is sensory, but we don’t use all senses equally!

Do you know which is your child’s prioritised sense? When do they feel most loved?

Prioritising Senses

Knowing which sensory expression of love your children need from you is critical to meeting their needs as individuals.

Don’t be afraid to love them differently.

My children are not the same:

  • One needs to feel understood, listened to and cared for through thoughtful words and deeds. His priority senses are hearing, tasting and smelling.
  • One needs to be cuddled, encouraged and trusted through reassuring touch, and encouraging words . His priority senses are feeling, seeing and hearing.

I don’t love my kids the same, I love them individually.

Which Language Do You Speak?

To find out more about what sense your child prioritises visit Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages and take the fascinating free online questionnaire to see which of the 5 Love Languages you and your child speak most fluently. I loved the opportunity to complete the questionnaire for your child from a mother’s point of view, and then get them to complete it and compare the results!

A great way to start the conversation about how we meet one another’s emotional needs.

My primary Love Language was Physical Touch followed by Words of Affirmation.

I’d love to hear what your primary Love Language is, post it in the comments below! 

 

Beyond the Bunny

256px-The_Velveteen_Rabbit_pg_25Is There More To Easter Than Chocolate?

 

Shiny pink foil, glittering around a perfect oval shape. It’s appealing. Tearing the foil and cracking open the smooth surface of the egg reveals…nothing. It’s empty.

 

So what’s the message here? Aren’t eggs the promise of new life, new beginnings? The excitement of all that packaging only to find nothing at the centre of it all. Disappointing.

 

So what’s my point?  If you celebrate a secular Easter (as we do), what’s the message you’re sending to the kids?  Is there more to Easter than chocolate?

 

Beyond the Bunny

 

Now it’s always struck me as a strange accident of interbreeding that Bunnies deliver eggs, but I’m not going there today. I’m diving into the heart of why my Easter message has been different this year.

 

For one thing, my kids are no longer BELIEVERS – that is, they know that I hide their eggs and they are outsmarting me with their detective skills in finding them! This means that the Easter Egg Hunt is now a family tradition a bit like playing a boring lengthy game of Monopoly! It demands ruthless skill, unrivalled treachery and old-fashioned luck!

 

For another thing, one of my kids is on a health kick the other is chocoholic! So I agreed to a ‘trade back’ on eggs, because the choice not to eat chocolate for health has to be ENCOURAGED!! I traded eggs at $5 a piece even when I only paid $2!! (Now you can see why I’m such a failure at Monopoly!)

 

And finally, this Easter my kids can see that you CAN’T BUY HAPPINESS; another chocolate bunny might sweeten your life for a moment but it can’t fill an empty space in your heart.

 

Ripples in a Pond

 

This Easter my children are learning about loss.

They are witnessing first hand the pain of losing a parent. It’s not one of their parents, but it’s close enough.  Close enough to witness the ripples in the pond as their friends, family and school communities grieve.

Close enough to remind them that nothing is forever.

So this Easter my message has been about being REAL. To stop getting distracted by the sparkly packaging of life and to concentrate on the REAL stuff that matters.

The things we can’t live without.

Once you have witnessed the pain of living without the one you love, it’s easy to see what is real:

  • love
  • laughter
  • cuddles
  • warm touch
  • shared emotion
  • family

I read The Velveteen Rabbit again today and this is an extract from it:

 “Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. “it’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time…”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

 

The Velveteen Rabbit was a book that my Mum used to read to me, and I remember loving it, but we both felt a bit choked towards the end. I tried reading it to my kids but got too emotional to finish so I left the story for another day.

And another day has come.

TODAY.

This is the message I’m sending to my kids this Easter:

Love without heed of appearance, for those that love you will always see your beauty.

Love without fear of loss, because love will transform your life.

Love because you can, all things will pass and fade, but you can be made new through love.

We are all toys in the nursery of life, some of us are sharp and pointy, some of us boastful, but love can transform us all.

 

You

Autumn benchYou

 

You are the anchor that holds me tight

When I am adrift in the night.

Your are the harbour that shelters me,

When the storm rages, it’s you I see.

You are the light that pierces the dull day

My inspiration to find a way.

You are the warmth that curls over my skin,

Calming the tension that tightens within.

You are the roots that spread far from the tree,

Steadfast and strong, holding me.

You are the earth, moon and stars of my world,

Side by side out lives have unfurled.

You are the silence that is all around,

Filled with beauty waiting to be found.

The story behind this poem:

I wrote this while I was travelling in the Northern Territory in Australia in 2014. I had just received the devastating news that my friend’s husband had been diagnosed with incurable brain cancer. When I thought of them, I thought of his strength and how he was her rock; I couldn’t imagine how she would be strong enough to cope with the thought of losing him. As their journey progressed this poem took on a new significance, as she found courage and strength to become the ‘harbour’ that sheltered him.

He lost the fight with cancer on Saturday 28th March 2015. Rest in Peace my friend.

In loving memory of Gary Purmalis.

Do You Have A Vision?

vision board collage dreamsA Vision of Chaos!

Little did I know that a hot hectic day in the middle of January would mark the birth of something so special.  It was just a little thing that became a big thing without me realising it was even happening!

 

After a disgustingly early start for school holidays, (we already had 2 hours of football training done and dusted before 10.30am) I was foraging under Berry’s bed, discovering missing school hats, dirty washing and random Lego pieces in preparation for the arrival of 3 excitable 12-year-old boys. It wasn’t until sometime later (probably before the tenth pizza and between shouts of ‘Marco’ and ‘Polo’ from the pool) that I realised I had doubled booked myself.

 

I had been invited to attend a vision board session hosted by Veronica Smith from The In8 Parent,  but had also planned a multiple sleepover for Berry on the same night. Thinking that Veronica probably wasn’t expecting a vision of chaos with my pre-teen entourage in tow, I called Excel-Man to bail me out! Needless to say feeding, entertaining and refereeing the rowdy crowd while I went to a ‘women’s thing’ was an underwhelming prospect!

 

So that’s how I left the house, harassed, hot and feeling like it was all too much like hard work!

 

I had not given the vision board a second thought all day, and I was totally un-prepared for what was to come. In a weak effort to show some enthusiasm I’d armed myself with scissors, glue stick and coloured pens, but I was ready for a passive sit-back-and-zone-out session where other people did the talking and I nodded thoughtfully.

 

But…it turns out that you have to create your own vision!!

 

Faced with a table of magazines, a blank sheet of card and a bowl of Cadbury’s Favourites I sat back to flick though the pictures, eat some chocolate and chill for the first time that day.

 

I really didn’t have a clue what I was looking for!

 

Having just discovered that a vision board was a personal, flexible, visual creation, representing your hopes, dreams and goals I felt a bit brain-dead visionless.

 

So I decided that I’d just cut out pretty pictures. I way was too tired to think about hopes, dreams and goals.

 

And then something happened.

 


 

It

began

very slowly.

I didn’t even notice

inspiration seeping in.

Cutting, sticking and creating

a vision of me and all I want to be.

 


 

A Vision of Me

 

Without realising it, I had started to shed the layers of mother, wife, teacher and friend. Pictures began to form a vision of me.

 

vision of me

 

My vision board didn’t get finished that evening, but it began germinating.

 

I watered it with hope, fertilised it with dreams and I left it in the sunshine of opportunity.

A vision was growing.

 

For the next few weeks I collected magazines where-ever I went and when I had the house to myself one afternoon I set about completing my vision board. It turned out like this.

 

finished vision board

My vision of home, heart, health and happiness

And now the vision board sits right in front of my desk, and while I write I look up at it and pause.

It affirms what I want in life.

It reminds me to connect, grow and create.

It inspires me to be passionate in all that I do.

It speaks to me of fulfilment, love and family connections.

My vision board is who I am, and who I will be, and I love it.

 

Links you may find useful

 

If you’re interested in creating your own vision board here are a couple of useful links: