Around the start of a new year, external forces tell, remind, inform, and educate us on how to transform into the best versions of ourselves. Advertisements for gym memberships don the billboards along the highways while radio commercials boast of the latest and greatest techniques that promise to erase those stretch marks for good (yeah, right!). Gadgets and gizmos guarantee a meal revolution in no time, thus transforming our evenings from hurried to not-so-hurried. While all of these approaches can help you become a different version of yourself, we may feel even more burdened if we don’t act on all of them to “jump start” into the spring.
As moms, we wear too many hats to count, and the last thing we want to take on is another hat that reminds us to change, transform, and be better. But what if we looked no farther than love itself? What if we took the nitty-gritty, every day, sometimes messy kind of love and turned it into a form that moms can relate to, kids can benefit from, and strangers can pass on? Inspired by an angry passenger on my most recent flight back to San Antonio, I give you the ways I have seen, experienced, and used love in various versions.
Love is colorful.
The post-Christmas season is always somber in my home. From the halt of Perry Como’s “I’ll be Home for Christmas” to the mantle shedding its glorious skin of pine, evergreen, and lights, I needed to brighten up our spirits and walls. Thanks to a few window markers, some construction paper, and way too many felt snowmen, the kids happily accepted a challenge: create a window scene that we can enjoy through winter, construct a treasure map that will lead us to the Snowmen Village (felt of course), and the more colors and patterns you add, the better! The colors are all around us now and helped the kids forget that our Christmas decorations are neatly tucked away. That weekend proved that love comes in the form of color (thank you, Crayola).
Love is patient.
Before you start reciting the verse from every wedding ceremony you’ve ever been to, let me stop you there. I am referring to the kind of patience that you beg the man upstairs for so you can make it through a situation without being carted off in a straight jacket. For me, this occurred when the man in front of us in line for the ever-so-small airplane bathroom saw the dance my small child was making to the tune of “I need to go now and if I don’t, we might have a problem on our hands.” As moms, we know exactly what this dance means and the outcome if we are too many verses in. No, I don’t love this man. For two hours from Pittsburgh to Houston, I didn’t even like this man. But as luck would have it, our paths crossed too many times to count and we were stuck together with nowhere to go. Despite my polite request to use the restroom before him and then my actual plea when we were dangerously close to loosing all our marbles, I smiled sweetly and told myself that two sets of eyes were upon me. It took many deep breaths, some prayers to the good Lord above, and a self-reminder or two to not go full on Mama Bear on this soul that secured the spot in line before us. My kids heard me ask for the favor of being next in line, felt my reassuring hand squeezes, and even humored me through my sorry attempt at distracting them with a song. I told them how badly I felt for this man because he was either experiencing a horrible tummy ache and had to use the potty immediately, or he didn’t have children and was unable to understand the urgency of tiny bladders (cue the laughter from the airline workers at this point). After what seemed like an eternity, we made it through this experience with a little patience from all of us, as well as an extra bag of peanuts, courtesy of the sweet folks at Southwest Airlines.
Love sometimes takes two pots.
My yard needs one of those “house divided” flags. However, it wouldn’t be for the intended use of college football fandom; it would be for culinary tastes. My husband comes from a spice-filled background, where flavors are robust and vibrant. I come from a much sweeter background, where chili is filled with beans and brown sugar. Imagine the conundrums we have when certain dishes are meant to be spicy or sweet and end up the other way around. A few hissyfits and about a million re-readings of The Five Love Languages brought us to the beauty of two pots. That’s right—two pots for the same meal. Our children could care less which pot their meal is derived from, but hell hath no fury than when a Southern man eats chili with beans and a Northern girl accidentally eats the shuck of a tamale (a tamale made with lard, no less). Even though it may be a bit ridiculous to some and perhaps more work for yours truly to clean, the two-pot way of living and loving in our home works. And there is nothing sweeter than coming home to a house that smells of fresh garlic and brown sugar.
I will be the first to admit that Valentine’s Day makes me want to throw the covers back over my head and sleep until February 15th. I have never understood why we designate one day to show and tell others how much we love them. Why can’t we have a Valentine’s Day on a random Tuesday in May? Here in San Antonio, August doesn’t really get much love, so why not pick a date in that month to express your love for those in and around your circle? Setting your partner’s coffee cup out the night before, spending a few extra minutes scouring for monsters under your toddler’s bed, or reading just “one more book” to your school-aged child may not seem like a colossal feat at the time, but the underlying love speaks volumes. And lastly, for the love of all things high and mighty, please let the child dancing in the bathroom line go in front of you.