Many of us have read the book, The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman. I have identified my top two love languages as “words of affirmation” and “gifts”. Meaning, basically, that I like to be affirmed daily (or hourly, or a couple of times a minute), and I like giving and receiving gifts.
As a mother, I felt that it was my duty to train my son in this as early as possible. I wanted him to know how much I love him and I needed him to know how to love me back. Of course, this was impossible to teach a newborn, but I was ready as soon as the occasion arose. And, it didn’t come soon enough, if you ask me. Tirelessly taking care of a newborn is both physically and mentally exhausting and I needed some affirmation and a gift or two. So, when my little boy was about 22 months old and demonstrated a semi-mastery of the English language (well, at least, the common bystander could understand him, not just his mommy), I felt that he was indeed ready to be taught his mommy’s love language. Hence, the following pathetic tale ensues.
In all of my motherly wisdom, I decided to teach my precious angel to say “mommy’s beautiful” whenever he wanted something. Who needs to hear the words, “please” and “may I”. In all my selfish need for affirmation, I taught my son to indulge me with this pleasantry. Actually, I just thought it was really funny. I did teach him to say “please” and “thank you” and all the other appropriate phrases that would elicit comments such as, “He has such good manners.” and “Wow! What a good boy you have.” Lord knows I needed to be affirmed by strangers, as well, that I was a good mother. Forget about love. Just tell me how wonderful I am and that I am doing a good job raising my child.
I think what it really boiled down to was that I had a lot of self-doubt. As any first time mother, I wasn’t really sure if I was doing a good job raising my son. I had waited for motherhood for so long and I wanted to be sure that I was doing everything right. That was my true need for affirmation, not love. (Not that I am dissing Dr. Chapman, or anything like that.) Thank goodness, that misplaced need for affirmation from my son and strangers has dissipated. I am much more confident in my parenting skills now and I don’t need my children to tell me how beautiful I am. I still like to hear that my children are perfect, though. So, bring it on. (I know that they are not. BELIEVE ME, I KNOW! I just like to pretend.)