Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Real Mom Confessions: When the 8 Year Old Asks About Crushes & Love

Today's a special day. TWENTY YEARS AGO TODAY Charlie asked me to officially be his girlfriend. We were two (obviously smart) 16 years old kids on a Holy Commotion church trip, having no idea we just said the first yes to the rest of our life.

This was before the time of cell phones and constant cameras at the ready so we have no photo to document that moment, but here's one from when we went to the winter formal as friends a few months before.



My college roommate commented, "Your hands don't scream awkward at all." True story.  It's amazing we went on to dance that night. It's even more incredible to me that I get to spend every day with that boy. No matter what we face, I will always smile in his embrace.

In light of this day, I bring you a real mom confessions highlighting a conversation about crushes and love that happened in public because...of course!

Hannah: When did you fall in love with daddy?

I start to explain that love is a process. That you don't necessarily know that you love someone right away. Dating is a ground to better get to know someone.

I'm trying to do this conversation right, all the while thinking Oh my gosh, Lord, I just wanted to take them to some Subway. This is a bit intense.

They quickly got bored with my lengthy explanation and Hannah goes, "I don't think you get it. Like a crush."

Me: Falling in love and crushes are different.

Ava: Did you have a crush on dad in college and just kiss him lots.

She starts making a kissy face in the aisle of Subway. Awesome. DEEP FREAKING BREATHS.

Me: A crush is where you get that sense that you like somebody. There are good things to know about a crush first. For example, I knew your daddy loved Jesus, that he treated me nice because we were friends for a long time, and that he wanted to be a dad someday, and I wanted to be a mommy. Love is where you believe you could be together forever and you choose to stand by them.

Hannah: So did you have a crush or love?

Me: Well, I had a crush first that developed into love. Now I have both.

I'm not sure this is going well.

Grace: What if you get a crush on a boy who loves Jesus and treats you nice but doesn't want to be a dad?

Maybe I'm doing okay.

Me: Well, whether or not a person wants to be a parent isn't easily changeable and not something you want to seek to try to change in someone else. So, if you really wanted to be a mom, it would be better, even though not easy, not to date them before you get too attached and then have to get your heart broken.

Ava: Do crushes and loves kiss?

Me: You could, although you want to be careful about your kisses.

Hannah: This all seems like maybe you aren't getting it.

I'M NOT GETTING IT?!?! Please, tell me how it works, child. I'M JUST TRYING TO EAT SOME SUBWAY FOR GOODNESS SAKE. I didn't get the memo that we were going to be having this important chat. 

One of the girls changed the topic and they moved on like kids do without looking back. I looked at each of them as they chatted, preferring that it went a little different because they are all at such different places of cognitive development. I'd have wished to have them alone. Not with a four year old. Not in Subway. But life is spicy and so much of parenting is all about responding to the curve ball.

I didn't hit a home run but I think it was a decent at bat. So, here's my encouraging thought today, parents - Parenthood isn't victorious through one great swing but in consistently showing up, willing to respond to whatever is thrown your way. 

Seeds were planted for the future, I can hope. Maybe they got a clearer sense that real love is complex and much different than the Disney fantasized, where comatose women wake up and immediately marry the stranger who just kissed their face.

This will do until it next comes up.

Preferably not in Subway.

Happy dating anniversary, Charlie :)

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