When I began taking my dating life seriously I read a book “The 5 Love Languages”. It was very eye opening to me this concept that there were ways that I can be manifesting my love to others but because I am not speaking their “language” the manifestations have no meaning.
As I have been watching my son grow I am learning that he himself has a love language. Truly he expresses and needs all 5:
Words of Affirmation:
I’ve been learning that Words of Affirmation are more than “I love you” it’s applauding him when he does something correct. It is learning to acknowledge his correct behavior and positive attitude more than correcting and reminding him about things such as “don’t forget to flush the potty”
So often in the day to day functioning of raising him its so easy to point out mistakes and errors. However, instead I'm choosing to focus more on the things that he accomplishes on his own. Behavior and actions that show he is growing up and taking responsibility. There are times that I slip into old patterns and I find myself feeling like I'm doing more correction and reminding but as I always state I'm a work in progress and so is he.
Over time as I’ve struggled I’ve realized that quality time has different meanings for him. It’s a closeness—it’s being involved in my activities. During this quarantine time he had enjoyed popping into my office during my patient visits to say “Hi”. Putting him in my desk to watch his movies while I work at the computer, cooking together, sometimes just sitting in a chair answering emails while he sits on the floor playing with his trains are the times he needs. There are times when he does want my undivided attention and he communicates that very well. I have learned to also communicate when I'm unable to give him my undivided attention and why. I have also learned to set limits and honoring those limits. For example--when I'm working on my last 1-2 patients at the end of the work day and he comes into my office I explain that I have to finish and that when I'm done I'll be all his until he gets bored with me and I honor that time. I leave my phone in with my computer after my last visit and I'm all his. We talk about his day. We play trains. We play baby shark (don't ask 😉). We enjoy each other until he has his fill and is ready to move on to something else. Sometimes it's 5 min and other times it's 60 min. Whatever his love tank needs to be topped off and full ⛽️ .
Spoiling my son is something that is so hard not to do. Every time I see a toy that I think he would enjoy playing with I want to get it for him. However, my money being funny and my change being strange coupled with memories of him enjoying playing with a toilet paper roll keep my wallet happy. But I’ve learned to make a big fuss about the most mundane and necessary things. Underwear, toothbrushes, toothpaste. Things should be appreciated and respected. Everything and every moment is a gift. I find that by elevating the “mundane” my son appreciates all things in life. I hope this trend stays. I love that he is appreciative of items but I also know that as he begins to desire and express himself it will be more vital to ensure that even the smallest gestures are appreciated as the big gifts.
Act of Service:
Kids learn by example. They parrot what they hear quickly becoming little mynah birds; intelligently selecting the naughty words we may utter in an unguarded moment. I have grown up watching my mother do for others; not only in her role as a nurse practitioner but also as a sister and daughter in her family. I treat my parents based on how they treated their parents. I treat others how my parents treated others. I expect and hope that my son will learn by my example.
Finding acts of service for my son has caused us to grow closer together. I am always finding the balance between encouraging him and pushing him to do for himself and learning to overcome frustrations when things to quite go as smoothly and easily as he feels they should. On the other hand I enjoy doing things for him such as getting him juice before he asks for it sometimes. Taking his plate into the kitchen for him. Little things that I know he sees. Displaying this behavior to my own parents so that it is a normal occurrence that is an expectation rather than an exception.
Moments of "cuddle time" is one of my favorite times of the day. Even when I'm running behind in the morning in getting dressed when he asks for "cuddle time" I'm happy to oblige. Of course I set a timer for a few minutes and let him know that we can only cuddle for a few minutes because otherwise we both would loose track of time. I find that it gives up both a moment to connect with each other when we feel disconnected and fills up my love tank 🥰.
On this journey of discovery that he and I are on. I am learning that there are certain times and instances when I have to tap into which particular language he needs. For example, when he is trying to over-talk whomever I’m talking to of course it’s a sign that he needs attention but why and what language is not being met. Sometimes if it’s something he’s proud of and he is looking for words of affirmation; then there are times when he is looking for quality time. Time for me to stop and provide him with my undivided attention—watching him play for instance. Other times just my mere presence soothes and helps fill his love tank up.
As he changes his love language needs will change and I must adapt. It’s challenging and fun to learn the ways to speak to and fill up his love tank.
Embracing my imperfection and striving for perfection through grace.