After he was born, I could not help staring at him and he me. He had such a gaze through his long eyelashes, it made me feel like the only person in the room. I later realized it was his way of memorizing my face. He was not aware of anything else in the world but he knows I was important to him and completely dependent on me. And again, it did not scare me.
Between 8 to 12 months, he started looking for me when I left the room and smiled when I returned. Is that love? Or dependence? I just basked in that wonderful feeling and enjoyed every moment. Like most early relationships, we would go through periods of intense affection and openness, then we would have times of clinginess and separation anxiety. True, I was yet to hear the words but I was happy just being around someone who could tolerate a food stained blouse and a burp blanket.
The toddler years, a period we much rather forget. Tantrums were an understatement, from arguments that did not make sense to illogical outbursts worthy of lawyer interference. I often think we are given children to teach us patience and it is never truer than at that particular point in time. But looking back, by throwing those horrible intolerable frenzies, children throw these to show how much they love us. After all, they would not be so hurt if they didn't trust us so deeply. There were moments where I was not sure, the constant refrain of "I hate you" was echoed so often in the height of rage that I have found myself crying. Heartbreak is a part of love, is it not?
After my son started school, he became very creative. My fridge was eventually surrounded by finger painted masterpieces and pasta portraits. My son's love for me was expressed in clay hearts and wobbly vases, dutifully brought home every Friday to be placed on my desk or pantry table. By taking the time to manufacture such acts of genius was definitely a sign of love.
The saying "it's the thought that counts" is never truer than in the mind of a preschool kid. Every stone, stick, flower, snail will be picked up and given to you with a look of complete and utter devotion. You will have to keep said keepsake carefully, less you are reminded of it a week later. If that isn't affection, I don't know what is.
Soon he will want your approval, whether it be in helping in a certain task or showing you how capable he is doing an activity. Like any cunning person in a relationship, use that to your advantage. Encourage this behavior totally, and you will hear the sounds of "Look at me" ringing around the house. Impressing someone is another sign of love, right?
However, like most relationships, things start becoming mundane, in a good way. He may confide in you, tell you his little secrets whether it is the name of his first crush or his embarrassing moments. You will rejoice over triumphs or cry over failures. You will become his confidante even though he might shy away from hugging you in public. Love is being able to trust each other and know you will not be judged. You know he is carrying your heart in his, and that is a beautiful thing.
As the years roll on, and the role of parent and child are reversed, love will continue to resurface. Through hospital visits, and family brunches, the memories will continue to flow. Once the grandkids come, the circle is complete. As one knows instinctively, growth means nothing to a parent. A child is a child, in our hearts, they will always be our babies and mutual love will continue to blossom.