Learning how to love when you’re not your child’s “favorite”
Sometimes my heart aches a little when I watch Ryan and Levi playing together.
They are so close. Levi is so utterly in love with his daddy. It makes my heart melt; I really do adore it.
A woman could have no deeper desire for her husband and children than to see them enjoy such a close relationship.
But still, my heart aches a little.
I used to think that the ache meant I was jealous of their relationship… and that made me feel ashamed. How could I be jealous of something so precious and so right?
But I’ve come to realize that I’m not jealous.
There is a strong emotion there–tinged with the smallest sliver of sadness–but it’s not jealousy.
I long for what they have. I long for my son to reach out to me they way he reaches out to his dad. I long for him to sometimes say “Mama, mama, mama!” when he hurts himself or wakes in the night.
You and I both know that we can’t force ourselves on people.
We can’t force them to love us.
We can’t force them to choose us first.
We can’t force them to pick us as their favorite.
I know these things. I’m a grown-up – I’ve had many years of relationships to learn this first-hand.
But if I’m honest, I’ll admit that these are the very things I sometimes yearn for – to be “picked first for the team” so to speak.
No one wants to hang back on the sidelines waiting for their name to be called.
Of course I don’t want their relationship to change – I hope that my husband and son will always share such sweet and intimate connection. But I also want in. I want that same depth that is obvious between the two of them.
I sometimes just want Levi to choose me first.
But love can’t be forced. Love—real Love—is always freely given and freely received.
God doesn’t pressure us to choose him or to love him. He just loves us and gives us the opportunity to love him back as we’re able, and as we choose.
My responsibility as a parent is the same – to love Levi with everything I’ve got, regardless of if he ever chooses me first or not. (And of course he does sometimes… just not often.)
I’m glad that Someone’s gone before me and shown me what it looks like to love like this.
And as I learn to love, and even grapple with the longing, I must guard my heart from comparison, from insecurity, from rejection, and from jealousy. For those are the things that so quickly drown out and destroy all that is good and lovely and pure.
Real love sustains, whether you are the favorite or not.
Dear friends, I almost feel silly writing this post. That, as an adult, I shouldn’t even begin to think such things. But I figure if this is something I wrestle with, then maybe other parents out there do too. How about you? Do you sometimes wish that your relationship with your child was more like your spouse’s?
P.S. If you haven’t already entered to win a copy of The Pregnancy Companion, you still have time! Entries close Wednesday. Enter for yourself or for a mom-to-be friend!
Have you checked out my new blog yet – Clink Clink Five? It’s very simple. And fun. And quick.
The week’s most clicked posts were my husband met another woman, and i’m ok with that and sitting on the bench like bookends.