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’?
Exactly like someone or something else
Not changed – exactly like an earlier version
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.
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?
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!