November 17, 2014

Love Needs No Words

I can probably count on one hand how many times I have heard the words "I love you" spontaneously come out of my son's mouth, but I still know I am loved.

I never heard those words come out of my father's mouth once, but I still know I was loved.

I never heard those words come out of some of my lover's mouths, but I still know I was loved.

There are different love languages and ways of expressing emotion, but we all feel something. We all give and receive in our own ways.

I am writing in reference to quotes from a psychologist in an NBC article about the murder of London McCabe:

Dee Shepherd-Look, a psychology professor at California State University, Northridge, who runs an education group for mothers of autistic children, said “quite frankly, I am surprised this doesn’t happen more often.” 
“These children are really unable to be in a reciprocal relationship and the moms don’t really experience the love that comes back from a child — the bonding is mitigated,” she told NBC News. “That is one of the most difficult things for mothers.” 
Shepherd-Look said autistic children can also be “rigid and oppositional.” 
“A mother told me yesterday, her whole entire day is consumed just by activities of daily living — getting up, brushing their teeth, eating breakfast,” she said. “Moms are really on duty 24/7.”

There are quite a few things wrong with these statements.

First off, no parent-child relationship is 100% reciprocal. Does a newborn give you hugs and say, "I love you"? No, babies take and take and take. Once in a while you might get a smile, but it's definitely one-sided.

For a very large chunk of their lives, your child will need you and rely on you a whole lot more than you should ever need them. This is a reality of parenting. If you got into parenting for selfish reasons, you only have yourself to blame and you'd probably benefit from some therapy to get over yourself.

It is not your child's job to love you. It's not even their job to like you. If you need love, find a partner, an equal, who can share love with you. Your child is not a replacement for a void of love and self-esteem in your heart.

If you are unable to see the smiles, love and affection your child gives you in many ways, every day, then either you have not loved them enough for them to be able to do that, or you are totally oblivious. Both cases require professional help. This is NOT the child's fault. It is YOUR failing - as an adult and as a parent.

And "Moms are really on duty 24/7"? Well, welcome to reality, but did you think you would just sit and watch soaps while eating bonbons all day? Also, that should say, "parents" are on duty. Dads or Mom-Dads or whatever partner should be "on" too. If you have a partner and they're not right along side with you in every way, doing their part to make things work, that's another issue. Again, that is NOT the child's fault. YOU need to work that out.

I don't think having my "entire day consumed just by activities of daily living" is limited to autism families. It sounds like a normal day to me, but hey, maybe I'm just special. Also, guess what? You don't have to wash the whole house every day. You don't even have to change your clothes. Just make sure the kid is fed and relatively clean. The rest is gravy.

None of these things are an excuse to kill someone! In fact, the only time I think it *might* make sense to kill someone is if they were trying to kill you first. And even then, if you can just injure them to thwart attack, that seems better. I'm pretty sure her 6-year-old didn't try to kill her. And I'm pretty sure little London loved his mom up until the moment he died.

I'm writing this, as a mom who hardly hears "I love you" from her child, but feels it in many ways. I see it in his smile and in his puppy dog eyes. I see it in the way he crawls into my bed when he is sick and sticks up against me like a little barnacle. I see it in the way he asks me for help and in the ways he asserts himself and doesn't want my help. Those actions come from a place of love, security and trust.

I'm writing this as a mom who works full time and is at work right now despite sleep deprivation - from the last few nights with a sick and clingy child in my bed. I am writing this, secure in the fact my husband is taking care of him well, because his job is more flexible and I will lose mine if I take more days off.

I am writing this secure in the fact I know my son is loved because that is more important to me than being loved.  I tell him with words every day. I tell him with my gentle and loving actions. And when I ask him if he knows he is loved, he says, "yeah, I know."

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