“You’ll never know how much I love you.”
Did you ever hear this as a kid? I did. Of course I know my parents were simply trying to say they loved me more than I could understand. They were right. It may sound odd, but I thought a long time about that phrase and it’s utility; “You’ll never know…” its intent… its inherent confusion.
I put a spin on that phrase for my own kids. Last Christmas, I looked my 19-year old son in his eye and told him that whenever he held his own child in his arms for the first time, he will experience love in a way he never knew it exists. What I hoped is that he would recall this short conversation, and others I’ve had with him about the first moment I ever laid eyes on him. I believe one of the side-events of that experience for him will be the understanding I have mentioned so many times. He’ll truly “get” what I meant every time I told him those stories, and finally comprehend the depths of my love for him. I told him that whenever that happened, our relationship would change again. That our relationship would grow even stronger.
I changed my delivery of the “You’ll never know” message because I wanted him to know whatever he thought of how much I loved him, he just couldn’t get it… yet. I wanted to create a light at the end of that proverbial tunnel… a space of reckoning that was coming where he would stand in the same place I did on the night of his birth. He will behold in complete awe and wonder the child he’s been blessed with, and simultaneously experience this rapturous love that permeates every piece and part of him… immeasurable joy… towering pride… and with any luck he will also experience a great deal of humility, the solemn gravity of this tremendous responsibility, and just enough fear to keep those protective Daddy instincts in play at all times. Everywhere. With everyone. =P When he was born, I told him about that sense of fear. The world outside that window changed when he took his first breath. Everything was dangerous. For a moment, it seemed everything I ever knew about got analyzed in a second for the threat those things could potentially pose to my son.
Just last month, my wife and I were discussing a potential scenario. The details aren’t important, but I experienced this unbelievable sense of resolve and conviction when discussing the lengths I would go to protect my children. That night I had a dream that illustrated something I haven’t concentrated on in a very long time. In this dream, I am crouching over my wife and daughters. They are crying, and their faces are nearly petrified with terror. I smile at them warmly and assure them that everything will be ok, that I love them and that I would always protect them. I turned back around and let out a warrior’s cry. I drew a sword, held a shield up and prepared to defend my family. To the front of me, and rushing toward me like a tidal wave was this enormous wall of fire with beings pouring out of it racing toward my family. The odds were simply overwhelming, but the last vision of the dream was my initial clash with what seemed like all of Hell, and the blast of pure energy that came out of me when I swung the sword into the wave. The whole scene flashed white and the dream ended.
I sat up in bed, breathing hard, sweating, my muscles tensed and clenched as if ready to pounce. I felt the rush of combat. I felt the screaming imprint of the warrior’s commitment. I was reminded anew that my precious children were worth so much more to me than my own life. I was overcome with gratitude, and wept quietly for a few moments that early morning. I am so lucky to have this love… this no-thought-willingness to sacrifice everything, if need be, to protect the subjects of that love and devotion. These kids caused connection between what I hope is the evolved and elevated nature of my consciousness and the primordial elements that express through the fleshly vessel of my humanity. The spiritual and physical elements of me are of one accord when it comes to protecting my kids. I believe that kind of commitment can only be borne of true love… with some help from our baser drives and instincts.
So my kids will know or discover, in their own unique ways just how much I loved them when they were born, and with any luck, throughout the rest of my life. It is my sincere hope that the example I have tried to set will make their hearts fertile for cultivating a similar love within them for their own children. Parenting with love isn’t simply some feel-good endeavor, it is laying claim on one’s ability to impact the future. I paint the future I want through the way I interact with, mentor when appropriate, guide and love my children. So much of their lives will consist of people, meetings, events, tragedies, achievements and whatnot that I will have absolutely no control over, but I can control every aspect of how I parent my children. If I want them to be patient/loving/fair/responsible/honest/loyal/wise etc, then I know I MUST consistently demonstrate those qualities myself. I can’t control the outcome, but I can control my effort. In such things… years and years of consistent words, deeds, and behavioral patterns, I believe the important messages I intend to instill in them stand the best chance of truly taking root.
How do you feel about the importance of word choice when we’re speaking to our kids? Did anything you read here maybe cause you to reconsider word choice when speaking to your own kids? Thank you for visiting again, and I’ll see you in the comments!