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My Son, My Teacher: The day my son defined Love

I was thinking of what to write this month of Love and I thought why don't I try to define love. It's just always hard to put them into words, and just as hard to capture its definition at the right time. As you know, parallel to our life events, it would mean differently at certain times. I guess love's definition is fluid.  So I thought of all the people I love. My family and friends. It then dawned on me, that it was right in front of me the whole time. Nagging me to believe him. Allowing me to witness love in its purest and simplest form.

What is love?

Dear Lucas,

This is our story. It's a story that I want you to remember because it's a story about our love.  It started long ago but it will never end.

One night before going to sleep:

Lucas: Mommy, I like being with you... because I love you.
Mom: Thank you Lucas! I love you too. Thank you for helping me fold clothes today.
Lucas: I love helping you. Can I help you wash the dishes?
Mom: Maybe when your hands are bigger.

That night you prayed, "Please God help my hands grow bigger so that I can help Mommy more."

I know. You are such a sweet sweet boy.

You love hugging too.

Upon waking up in the morning... while you're watching TV, while playing, doing your schoolwork... Anytime!

It also doesn't matter what I'm doing... Whether I'm doing household work, studying, or even when we are walking outside... Anywhere!

I take it all the time! I'm too scared that one day when you've grown, you will stop needing the comfort of my hug.

I asked you why you like to hug all the time.

You said, "Because I love you."

You like being with me. You like helping me. You like hugging me.  And you know, in your young mind, that you do all those things just because you love me.

Yet when I asked you at 5 years old to define what love is, the answer always turns 360 degrees, "I love you because I like being with you. I love you because I like hugging you."

I get it, baby. I feel it too, especially every time we hug. It's like a certain warmth fills up my chest, make my heart glow, then it just... explode.

When we hug, I feel like my body is melting, yet it's Oh so blissful.  It takes all the worry and anxiety away.

You see, you already knew the simplest definition of love...

Love is a feeling... Love is an emotion.

A lot of painful things happened in my life. In your young mind, you wouldn't understand, but you were there for me baby. Like when your grandpa Eddie died and you saw me crying.

There are other times too when I was just overly dramatic and you saw me crying over my petty frustrations on household works... you hugged me, and it's funny... you telling your mother that everything will be alright.  Your presence alone was enough. Your hug makes me feel better because your love is strong enough... stronger than my sorrows.

Love is Powerful. It's stronger than any sorrow... stronger than any pain.

You have a strong imagination. You love playing pretend and you especially like imaging monsters and zombies. One time when you were three years old, I pretended to be captured by monsters. I shouted your name while pretending to be pulled outside the door. "Lucas! Help meeeeee!" Your dad said, "Go Lucas! Save Mom! The monsters got her!" Dad said you were so scared. You were building up your courage but you were shaking from fear. I guess you really have a strong imagination! I'm sorry for scaring you. You thought it was real. But you see, even when you were frightened, you took your toy sword and once you built your courage, hurriedly went outside the room to save me. You were my superhero.

The scary situation wasn't real. But for me it was. Your love was real. And I felt moved that your love was strong enough... even stronger than your fear.

Love is Powerful. It's stronger than indecision... stronger than fear.

You showed me that Love is not just any other emotion... it's a moving powerful emotion...

My love, my life completely changed when you came.

I know I'm not a perfect mother. You even lashed at me once when you were four years old. You were so tired from our travel and I was sick. I wanted you to sleep so we both can get a rest. But you refused and got so mad. So mad you shouted, "You are not a good mom! I don't like you!"

We were both hurt. You were sorry you said that and I was sorry I couldn't be a better mom.

In fact, I constantly worry whether I am doing things right. Most of the time I think I do but then just one tantrum episode and I am in doubt again.  "What am I doing wrong?"

There are other times when I read an article about what parents should do, or sometimes I hear people say that I should be doing something else when I just question my capabilities. I have never been more insecure than when I became your mother.

Don't feel bad, a lot of times you showed me how a sweet and good boy you are.  A lot of times you tell me you are happy I'm your mother.  Our days are not perfect, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

They say that a mother's love is unconditional.  It's true. I'd take all the good and the bad with you. No matter what happens, I know that I will always love you.  Just like my mother gave me love without asking anything in return.

But there are a lot of hard days. A lot of days when we'll both be tired. I imagine there will be days when we just want space from each other.

I remember one time when you were three years old, we joined a school trip (without daddy). It was hot and there was a lot of walking.  At the end of the day, you didn't want to walk, you wanted me to carry you.  I was tired, my back aching, sweating vigorously from the summer heat, and oh so hungry.

I carried you anyway.

I told the story to my friends afterward. Admitting that you were being difficult at the end of the day I wanted to hurt you.  They said they feel that way too most of the time, but they were shocked to hear someone actually admit it.

It's okay to admit it, right? I guess the love between a mother and a child is the same as any other love.  I'm sorry I felt that way. If you should know, I did not hurt you. Because the Love between a mother and a child, though unconditional, is still a choice.

It's hard to believe, there are mothers who chose to not even see their child. Mothers who physically abuse their children. Let's include them in our prayers baby.

Field trip at 3 yrs old actual picture

Love is an emotion but it turns into action because it is so powerful... it leads to a choice.

It is evident in all our stories.  Long ago even before you were born when despite our differences, your Dad and I chose to be with each other.  Love is a moving powerful emotion... that graduates into a choice.

Thank you, my dear Lucas, for coming into this world. As you transition from being a child to a teenager... to adult... and hopefully have a child of your own someday.  I know a lot will still change.  When you grow up, you can read this letter.  I hope that you'll still get it, the same way that you understand love right now. Daddy and I promise to try our best to teach it right back, in case you forget.

I love you, my baby...

Note to readers: This is not a made-up story. The words and the sequence of conversations are exactly how it happened.  Children absorb everything they see and hear, and they learn quickly from 0 to 6 years old (Absorbent Mind - Montessori term).

Special thanks to my friend, Hana Sophia, for helping me polish my thoughts.

What's your definition of love? What's your love story?

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