She danced around my feet, giggling and playing, insisting that I pick her up. Each time I put her down to try to finish making her food, she hugged my legs again, trying to climb me.
Each time, I smiled and picked her up. Finally, I just decided it was time to multi-task and put her on my hip while I finished up.
At that moment, something amazing occurred to me. I hope y’all are sitting down, because this is a doozy.
Most of us, as parents, do what we can to give our kids the material things they need and want, right? And, it feels good to do that, I think.
But, I realized standing there in the kitchen, the material things don’t really mean anything. While I’d understood this concept in the past, it hit me on a new level that, while there are a few big “material” moments I’ll never forget from my childhood (like the time I got my first Barbie Dream House), most of my happy childhood memories are about times that my parents showed me they loved me. And most of my happy grown-up memories are about showing or being showed love.
For example, my dad is a river boat captain. I still have the letters he used to write me while he was on the boat. The first time my mom sent me to Girl Scout camp, she wrote me a letter every day. I still have each one.
I remember how proud they were the day I graduated. I remember how they held each of my babies in their arms for the first time, in as much awe as I was.
I remember the day my husband proposed to me, every detail. I remember our first date, our first kiss, our yesterdays. I remember each of my babies’ birth and so so so many special moments with each of them. I look forward to our tomorrows, but I’m in no hurry. I’m too busy enjoying our todays…
And today, as I made lunch holding my daughter on my hip, I realized that the most important gift we can ever, ever give to our children is love and acceptance.
As this realization washed over me, I found myself telling Sophie that all I want for her in the world is that she’s happy, safe, and healthy. The rest, I told her, is up to her.
It’s what I want for all three of my children. To become who they want to be, to be truly fulfilled.
So, today, I have just a small challenge for you. I want you to take a few moments, and think about a time that someone in your life did something that made you KNOW that you were loved. Think about how amazing it felt right then, and allow that feeling to resurface.
Then, pay it forward.
Show someone how much you love them. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture, just a little something can make all the difference in the world.
Maybe you can send your mom a card, take your kid out on the town, or spend some extra time with your bff. Maybe you need to treat your cat to a special dinner, or take soup to a sick neighbor. And have you called your Grandma lately?
Love is an important element in personal fulfillment. Don’t keep yours tucked in a neat little box. Let it flow into your every action. Move with love, feel with love, live with love. As the Beatles said so eloquently in that celebrated melody:
There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
All you need is love, love, love is all you need.