I was stationary biking next to my older child earlier today. Those of you who know me know that I delight with working out with – and next to – them when they’re home from college. And they are. So we were.
We’re about to head off to Madrid for a week. A mother-child vacation, with a friend of theirs and their friend’s mom. Needless to say, I’m excited.
I turned to them, as we sweated and biked, and said, “You know, this trip we’re taking. It doesn’t have to replace our plans to go away for a weekend together when we’re not under the pressure of looking at colleges. You know.” (We’ve made plans to go away together, without the pressure of looking at colleges, so that we can just have fun.)
“Of course it doesn’t!” they answered.
I started to cry. “You really like me,” I jokingly offered.
“Of course I do,” they answered. “I work out with you all the time.”
“I thought you just did that because it was better than working out alone…”
“No, silly,” they said, looking at me with the “really Mommy?” look. “No, I like being with you.”
“Sometimes I have a hard time letting that in,” I replied. “Maybe it makes sense that I’m like that, and I’m definitely working on it. But sometimes I have a hard time letting in that you really love me. Just ask Daddy. He’ll hug me and then stop, step away, and look at me and say, ‘See, I love you.’ Sometimes I have a hard time letting it in.”
Sometimes I do. And I’m getting better. My object permanence has increased, and I still can forget that I’m loved by the people I love. If it’s not immediately in my face at that exact moment, I can have a hard time remembering.
So I’m working, more and more, on letting it in. On soaking it up when it happens. On noticing it and noting it and cementing it in my brain, as much as I possibly can. I’m reading Hardwiring Happiness by Dr. Rick Hanson. Hanson explains that we can counteract our brain’s negativity bias simply by focusing on – really focusing on – our daily positive experiences.
I’m working with this, and applying it to my desire to let the love in and own it even more. And as I spoke with my child this morning, as I wiped away the tears (and the sweat), I made myself pay attention to the moment, and to what they said. And I let it in, so that I can continue to let it in.
And then we’ll go to Madrid. And away again after that. Because maybe they like being with me as much as I like being with them. ☺
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