Monday, August 4, 2008

Proof of Love

Of course you can't actually prove love, but how do you show love?

I once saw a woman having lunch with her five-year-old son. It was the most visible demonstration of a mother's love for her child I'd ever seen. It wasn't just the way she gingerly placed each dumpling on her spoon, gently blowing on it to cool it down before putting it on her son's plate. It wasn't just the way she filled his bowl with rice after he finished each serving before she took any for herself.

What really looked like love was the way she made eye contact with him and listened to him. Unlike many parents, including me, she didn't just say, "Eat this, eat that, do you want more of this, is that yummy?" She was chatting with him and listening, really listening to his stories. She stopped her spoonful mid-way to her mouth to look straight into his eyes, smile at him, and respond to what he was telling her.

I don't think I've ever seen a parent treat such a young child with so much love, admiration, and respect. I wished I could tell that boy, "If you ever grow up to think that your mother doesn't love you enough, remember this scene."

I wonder... when my kids look back at memories of me, what will they see as proof of how much I loved them?

Will it be little things like the way I tuck them in at night and bury my face in their necks to whisper "I love you" to them? Will it be the way I cut up their food into shapes that they'll like? Or maybe the sweet treats I sneak to them even though they didn't finish their dinner?

Will it be big picture things like my insistence that they learn to treat people with respect and kindness so they can grow up to become pleasant, decent adults? Will it be the lectures I give them about taking care of their health and their environment? Or maybe the things I'm doing to fight cancer so I can stay alive for them?

What do you remember from your childhood that made you feel your parents loved you? What did your mother and father say and do that you hold as demonstrations of your parents' love?

What do you do day-to-day to show your love to your children? What evidence, big and small, will they see later on as proof of how much you loved them?


Doubting Thomas Tang said...

Dear Shin,

I am not married yet and I don't have kids. But I'll like to share with you a quote I am trying to practise in my daily life and admittedly not all is possible. Perhaps you may have even read already.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong doing but rejoices with truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends..."

Anonymous said...

My kids are 25, 24, and 21. When I handed my 21 year old her toast with peanut butter a few weeks ago, she asked me where the heart was. Whenever I made my children toast, I drew a heart in the peanut butter. After all these years, she feels as if something is missing when I don't draw on her food!!!
Kids remember the strangest things. When we talk about the "olden days" of their childhood, I'm always stunned at the things that my children thought were important. Don't worry, Shin, all those little things matter. They'll remember.