When Little Miss Sunshine is feeling lonely, or tired, or hungry, or bored, she wants cuddles. She needs to be held, hugged, kissed, snuggled. When my lap is already full of a laptop or potatoes I’m peeling for dinner, it can get a little challenging. But if I need to make the Little Miss feel better, I need only pull her into my arms and smother her with kisses.
When Gal Smiley needs a show of love, she wants to do something with me. Doing an activity together makes her feel included, part of a club, an insider. She’s not into physical affection – kisses are out of the question and small, quick hugs are barely tolerated. But if you’re too busy for a game, or if you’re working on something that she can’t help with – that’s rejection. She’s our social girl, and you need to show her you love her by spending time with her.
When Captain Jelly Belly has had a hard day, he needs to be pampered. An upset Captain needs to be gently led to the couch and wrapped in a blanket. He needs someone to bring him a hot chocolate and a snack, fetch him his favourite stuffed animal, maybe rub down his back. If you ask him to do chores around the house, it’s akin to telling him you don’t love him – how could you possibly expect him to make his own bed? Don’t you CARE ANYMORE? It’s a challenge to find a good balance, but if the Captain really needs to feel loved, you only need to wait on him a bit.
I wonder if these will be their behaviour patterns their whole lives. Will the Little Miss always need to be touched to feel loved? Will Gal Smiley only be happy with friends who invite her to every event and activity? Will the Captain require a wife who is willing to pick up his socks and make him dinner every night (extremely likely, and my deep apologies in advance to the future Mrs. Captain)?
These are the kinds of things that make parents feel that they, and only they, will ever truly know and understand their kids. Will I always know them better than they know themselves? Or will they change someday, and suddenly I’ll find everything I thought I knew is no longer true…leaving me on the outside, looking fruitlessly for cuddles and inclusion and pampering?
I can’t even tell you what makes my own self feel loved. I should ask my mother, or Sir Monkeypants. I know it isn’t any of these – I’m not a cuddly person by a long shot, I value my time alone, being served makes me feel antsy and fake. But I’m learning to give my children what they need, and to find my own comfort in that.
My three little ones have taught me how to make them feel loved. And that makes me feel loved, in return.