March 31, 2020
Alysia, guest blogger
“Tuck ‘em, tuck ‘em, tuck ‘em,” was one of my favorite things I used to hear from my dad because that meant I was being tucked in like a little burrito right before bed.
It was the time of day that I got my dad all to myself (I had two older brothers who seemed to get much more of a slice of time pie from my dad).
But those 30-ish seconds he would take to tuck me in and tell me good night was the time I felt most loved by him.
The rest of the time, I felt mostly invisible. I got the occasional spanking for not listening and he would always turn on the record player so I could “dance” on the trampoline to the Pointer Sisters “Jump [For My Love].”
The rest of the time, and most of my adult life, I felt like I had to “jump” for his love through my achievements. I desperately sought his approval and when I felt I didn’t have it, I felt worthless.
Last year, I decided to hire a life coach, (which I highly recommend for everyone, by the way), and she suggested I start telling myself a different story and search for evidence to prove this new story.
The new story was that my dad DOES love me and I began to collect evidence that supported that. At first this was a little difficult because the old story was ingrained deep. I had evidence of all the ways I wasn’t important to him but that old story wasn’t serving me any longer.
I started remembering all the ways my dad showed his love for me and it completely changed the way I saw my relationship with him.
An example that popped into my head one day was about Valentine’s Day. When I was 12 years old, my dad drove to my home (he lived about an hour away) and left a Valentine he had bought for me. And then I remembered all the other times my dad had given me a Valentine the years I was single. He always made sure I was given a gift, because he always wanted me to know I was loved.
One day it hit me. All the years I felt unloved by my dad wasn’t because he didn’t love me. Instead, it was because he was showing me love in his love language, the way he expressed his love, not in mine.
The 5 Love Languages is a book written by Gary Chapman, first released in 1995. The book goes into detail on what the five love languages are (words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch) and how they can be applied in a romantic relationship.
Typically speaking, the way you feel the most loved is also the way you express love. This perception and communication is how every relationship functions (or does not function).
If you and your partner are not speaking the same love language, you may be feeling unloved, and if that is the case, it can cause a lot of problems in the relationship.
What I never connected was the fact that everyone has a love language, not just in the context of a romantic partnership.
You may have an argument with a friend because they feel distant from you because you don’t spend a lot of time together. Their love language could be quality time and yours may be words of affirmation. You may show your love to your friends by sending them a card telling them what a great friend they are but if that’s not their love language, they may not receive the gesture the way you intended.
My top love languages are gift giving and quality time. I believe my dad’s love languages are quality time and words of affirmation. Although we both share quality time as our love languages, my dad and I shared very different interests. His interests are mostly gardening, watching sports and reading. I could care less about gardening, I detest sports and I would rather be writing than reading and neither of those are exactly group activities.
After this new revelation, I thought about my son, Zander. I wondered if history was repeating itself because I was showing him love in my love languages and not his. I would buy him a toy whenever I went out of town or if we ever went to the store and he asked for something, I’d buy it for him.
After I had this thought about love languages in the parent/child relationship, I decided to ask him, “How do you feel most loved by Mommy?”
His response was, “When you snuggle me.”
My heart sank.
That was the thing I was doing the least. He always asked to snuggle with me in the morning and before bed. I don’t know about your mornings, but snuggle time is mostly out of the question if we want to get out of the house on time. And by bedtime, most nights I’m emotionally drained and ready for him to be asleep so I can be something other than mommy for a bit.
For the most part, my parenting style has developed out of the question “What do I wish was different about my childhood?” so I can do things differently and not feeling loved by my dad is probably the number one thing I would change.
So, I have made a conscious effort to honor his request of more snuggles.
Being a Momtrepreneur, I have some flexibility in when I get dressed and ready for the day. I’ve started getting up an hour earlier, so I can be ready by the time he wakes up in the morning.
It doesn’t ALWAYS work, but we figure it out most days. Or I finish getting ready after I drop him off at school.
After school, I also try to sneak in a little snuggle time. Our bedtime routine includes snuggles, kisses and sometimes nibbles. Those always make him giggle, and there is no better sound in the world than that boy’s laugh. Tuck ‘ems have also entered our bedtime routine.
The parent/child relationship is the purest form of unconditional love I’ve known in my lifetime. Making sure your child feels unconditionally loved is worth asking such a simple question and honoring their answer.
I highly recommend picking up the book and exploring the love languages of the ones you love around you. Becoming more aware of others’ love languages strengthens and build upon that relationship you hold so dearly.
So what’s your love language? Does it differ from your child’s?
Until next time,
Life Coach and soon-to-be Author
Alysia is a multi-passionate Momtrepreneur, (and surrogate multiple times now!), with a background in cosmetics, and training in life coaching. Alysia’s passion is interpersonal communication between a mother/son and stems from the relationship with her #1, her son, Zander. She has an amazing book in the editing process (that I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of) about Mom Guilt and all it encompasses. I suggest following her to find out when it’s available, you won’t want to miss it!