love

Posted on December 16, 2011

2


It was only once I had children that I understood the real point of Christmas. Christmas celebrates the birth of a baby, a special one perhaps, but all children are special, and none more so than our own. Motherhood unleashes a torrent of a love we didn’t know we were capable of feeling. Not immediately perhaps as we sit dazed and sore in the confused and exhausting aftermath of childbirth but over the years as our lives become inextricably linked.

 Christmas may be about giving rather than receiving, but mothers give more than they get back all year round. That’s part of the job. That’s part of love. We put a child’s welfare continually before our own. We absorb their pain as if it were our own whether that’s a grazed knee as a toddler, a failed dream or an unrequited love affair as a teenager. There are countless moments as we watch them grow up when we feel unloved, taken for granted. We have to love them enough to let them go.

 That’s why the John Lewis add on the telly, where the little boy can’t wait for Christmas day so that he can give his parents his badly wrapped gift rings such a chord. It must have been a mother who dreamt that scenario up and I hope she gets promoted. Most mothers are on their knees with tiredness and a chronic head cold by Christmas Eve. If we’re working we’re working harder than ever before not to lose that valuable income in this recession. There are nightly social functions from the office party, drinks with essential clients as well as those friends you never see the rest of the year. Then there are the younger children’s needs, Christmas parties, carol concerts, visits to Santa’s grotto, presents or flowers for their teachers. Teenagers get tired and grouchy too. This is the longest and hardest term of the year.

 Then there is all of the other stuff that you have to do just as the light fades with the end of the year. Thinking up what others might want or need is bad enough; you then have to think up ideas for everybody else who rings for suggestions as to what your children/mother/partner might like. There’s food to buy and prepare, presents to wrap, cards and labels to write and all of this has to be done with love. Because you do love everyone. Its just you wish Christmas could come at an easier time of the year, or maybe once every four like the World Cup.

 In spite of all this work, I love Christmas. I love the way that my daughters want to be there to hang all the rubbish we have accumulated over the years on the tree even though they are 18 and 22 years old. The Angel at the top was made by the youngest when she was four. It comes out the box along with the baubles and the nativity scene same child made out of clay when she was three. It is so stylish that every year we say Conran could sell it. I love the way I still get messages for Santa about the make up they covet for their stockings. I love the way that Stoph and I now wake up before them on Christmas morning and are so excited WE want to wake THEM up. And I love the fact that after all these years, the two people I most want to be happy with their presents is my two adult children. For in the end love is all there is that is worth having and perhaps it takes baby Jesus to remind us of that fact.

 Love for our children has to be unconditional. We hand down the baton of love to give them the essential emotional foundations to grow up well. The days of the young having to show love to their parents simply because they are their parents is mercifully over. Love from our children is earned by the love we give to them. Without that, they can and will walk away as soon as they are able.

So Happy Christmas everyone…. and a very Happy New Year. x

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