Thursday, February 14, 2013
Since becoming a parent, I am realizing God outfitted us with a certain little mechanism that makes it impossible - I mean pull your hair out, cross your eyes, scream into a pillow impossible - to not love your child. Both unbelievably frustrating and so fantastically brilliant it's hard to really understand. I've found this thing called unconditional love to be devastatingly hard yet so beautiful it brings me to tears. It's what makes me want so deeply, from the core of my being, to give my children the best possible life.
If you're a fellow parent* you know unconditional love gets us through the "I hate yous!" and "No! NOs!" and "WAAAAAAAAs!" and whining and complaining and ignoring. It's what allows us to laugh at the pee in our hands, the stack of dirty diapers to be sprayed, the parent/child torture called teething and then adolescence. It's what breaks our hearts and then makes them burst and brings us to our knees - daily.
Unconditional love blinds [maybe belatedly but still] us to the tantrums in the grocery store, the all-nighters [when's the last time you had a full nights sleep?], the dirt on the freshly mopped floor, the bodies that become canvases, the lost phones, swallowed money, the broken bones, and chicken pox. It keeps us sane through the "I don't like this" after hours in the kitchen, the wet beds, the marked up walls, the broken windows, the laundry, the dishes, and the flu. It covers the vomit down your shirt, the chunk of food behind your ear, the shower that you should have taken three days ago [okay, five]. It forgives the insensitive comments, inappropriate jokes, and obnoxiously loud screams.
This love carries us through puberty, it promises your child actually does love you back, and rejoices in those small moments that take your breath away. It's what makes you cling to the hope it's only a phase and gives you endurance to weather the phase that sticks around for years [decades?]. Unconditional love makes us stronger than we really are, wiser than we should be, and ready with open arms regardless of the circumstance. It makes us pack more toys than necessary - you know, just in case they need that one they haven't played with in 3 years. It cares deeply about the little details that matter so much.
I know most people think of this day, Valentine's Day, as the day of romance. I usually do too. Today however I want to say thank you. If you're a parent, thank you for sticking by your child. For doing the work [usually very hard work] of loving your children well. Thank you for showing up and being present. You do make a difference. Every effort, every conversation, every smile, every hug, every word of encouragement, every tough conversation, every boundary, each time you bite your tongue, every minute, every prayer - they matter. Please keep going. If you are in a rough season, please keep going. If you are in a season of joy , please keep going. Trust that this love will carry you through.
[*] If you're not a parent then the jokes on you because in one way or another you've parented somebody. Maybe it's the highschoolers you mentor, the kid you tutor, the campers you serve, the kids you babysit, or the neighbor you see from time to time. Maybe it's the toddler you talk to in the check-out line or the newborn infant you pass to an exhausted but ecstatic new mom. Maybe it's the family you pray for each day or the kid you fill a backpack for. Maybe you sponsor a child you will most likely never meet but write him / her letters anyway. Maybe you cuddle babies in tiny huts on a different continent or care for infants who may not live to see tomorrow. To those of you who are parents without being parents, thank you. Thank you for caring for our children in a way that we aren't able to. Thank you for stepping in when we just need a break and for giving our kids another positive example to follow. Thank you for bringing new energy, enthusiasm, hope and grace. We need you, so please keep going.
This Valentine's Day may you celebrate the ways parenthood [actual or otherwise] have shown you just how much love you can hold. May it open your eyes to blessings overlooked, lessons learned, and mercy granted. May it remind you of prayers answered, memories made [some even forgotten], and a love so strong it makes you weak.
Happy Valentine's Day.
Below are some of my favorite sweet treats. Grab your hunnies and your honey [and dates and chocolate and carob] and celebrate this day of love!
Note: I'm in the process of updating this blog which means some of the pictures are sorely outdated [trust me] so please bear with me!
Velvet Chocolate Ice Cream
Date-Sweetened Ice Cream
Raw Chocolate Milkshake
Berry-Lavender Freezer Cupcakes
Chocolate-Coconut Freezer Fudge
Chocolate Freezer Fudge