I was sitting in the living room after a very long day, and in a rare moment my youngest looked up at me and said, “Mommy, I love you.”
I think it helped that earlier in the day I bought her all the items that she had put in my cart on Amazon Prime.
“I love you.” The sweetest, best words you can hear after a long, challenging day.
This past weekend I was an artist-in-residence at a retreat for families with preschoolers. There was a parenting session led by a wonderful friend and colleague of mine whose wisdom is deep. Her quiet, gentle being might fool you, but she is a fierce educator and brilliant parent. Sitting in the circle near me was a father holding his three-month-old baby. I was watching him love, simply love, that baby.
He had one leg crossed over the other and the baby was lying in the cove created by his legs. The father was gazing into the baby’s eyes with kind, pure love.
Nothing heroic. Nothing extreme. Just love.
The adorable three-month-old felt the presence of that love. She knew it was there.
She was calm, cooing, smiling and filled with that oh-so-sweet, sweet three-month-old sweetness.
“All you need is love” the Beatles sing. Oh, how true!
We need many, many things in this life, but it begins with love.
Unconditional, calm, centered, focused love.
The kids I work with were denied that simple, basic beginning.
How can they move forward when so much of the love they have received in their life was the exact opposite and completely conditional?
Do this, be that, and then, only then you shall receive love.
The gang, the pimps, the drug dealers all bank on their desperation for love.
We all want love, but when you have been deprived of it, the desperation is intensified.
When you have been deprived of love, you can be so easily manipulated and the need for love leaves you weak and incredibly vulnerable.
Ah love, sweet love.
My homies and previously incarcerated individuals are always cautious to let me in. What amazes me again and again about the brilliant youth I work with is that once you love them, once you give to them, once you build trust, and man do you have to work for that trust, they will love you with intense honesty, loyalty and compassion that has left me forever changed.
No pretense, no bullshit, come as you are, you’re the bomb, strong, close embrace, love.
People tell me again and again how lucky the people I work with are to be loved by me, but really?? It is I who am the lucky one.
A former student peeked into the class where I was teaching.
We were finishing up. She came in and gave me the longest, deepest hug.
OMG, a love-filled, soul-filling hug. One of those hugs that make you a little taller.
My heart grew a few inches.
“Ms.,” she said.
“Yes,” I answer.
“I love you. You know why?”
I laugh out loud.
“No, why?” I ask.
“Don’t go laughing at me,” she says.
“I’m not laughing at you,” I say.
And then she punches me in the shoulder and she says,
“I love you, Ms., ‘cause you made me love me.”
“Then why are you punching me?” I ask.
“I don’t know, Ms. Tough love,” she says.
And we both laugh.
Sometimes it’s a little embarrassing to love. That’s okay.
I invite you this week as Valentine’s Day floods everything around us.
Choose love, not because of the cliché.
Choose love and choose to love those who are the hardest to love, because love creates a space to grow.
And when there is a place to grow, change can happen, and when change happens the world becomes a better place.