Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably at least heard of the “love languages.” I’ll admit, I didn’t know what they were until my mom group had a speaker come in to talk about them. For the uninitiated, I’ll explain:
Gary Chapman, in his book The Five Love Languages spells out five different ways in which people can express or experience love.
The languages are:
- gift giving
- quality time
- words of affirmation
- acts of service (or devotion)
- physical touch
I knew, as soon as we had finished the talk, that my love language was “acts of service.”
The best way to show me that you love me is to take something off my plate. Every time my husband washes the dishes, my son gets his sister a glass of milk so I don’t have to get up, or my brother offers to babysit, what I really hear is “Kate, I love you.”
I imagine this “love language” is common for a lot of moms. We all have so much to do. It seems like there are just not enough hours in the day, and we are constantly being of service to our families.
Similarly, when I serve my family, I do so because I love them. In my kitchen, I have a sign that says:
“Wash the plate not because it is dirty nor because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next.”
-St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta
I don’t love the cleaning, or the laundry, or the errands. I love the people I do all of it for.
Sadly, however, my family doesn’t see those actions as an expression of love. At least not automatically. For awhile, this bred some resentment. I mean, how can they not appreciate all the things I am doing for them?!
The answer is simple. I wasn’t speaking their love language.
My son, especially, experiences and expresses love through physical touch.
He loves to snuggle. Last Sunday, he kept kissing my hand throughout the Mass. As soon as he gets home this afternoon, he’ll want me to wrap him into a big old hug.
Something I really need to work on is speaking to him in that love language.
Like most moms, at the end of the day, I am stressed out, touched out, and just want to be left alone.
But this boy. This sweet, affectionate boy. He needs his mama to show she loves him in a way he understands.
So I’ll take a breath, climb onto the couch, and nestle him next to me. I won’t feel like I’m doing anything, and the dirty dishes in the sink will drive me crazy. I’ll want to get up.
But the reality? I am doing everything he needs. I am being of service. I am making him feel loved.