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Love Language: Sunday musings…10/11/2020

Sunday musings…10/11/2020

1 Date. Anybody else notice that yesterday was 10/10/20? That’s gotta be a thing, right?

Should be a thing.

2 Verlaine. Name of a French poet. Now often used as an adjective to describe not just poetry but fine poetry. Cool name for a horse, don’t you think?

Here’s hoping the one we just added to the stable performs like fine poetry.

3 Map. “How did we ever find ourselves wherever in the ‘80’s?” Bill P, surgeon and muse.

At the moment I am riding shotgun as Beth drives us home from what stood in for dinner in Paris (our 35th Anniversary trip to France with Bill and Nancy got 2020’d). On the way to Cincinnati we took a grand total of 2 roads until we got to our exit. Two more roads and there we were, in our friends’ driveway. Pretty straightforward trip during any era, but one that required only a tiny bit of info to pull off. So, we just winged it, right? Went all 1985 on the navigation. 

Nah. We had Waze on the whole way. You know, just in case there was an accident, or construction, or whatever. 

At breakfast this morning we all marveled at how in the day we always ended up where we were headed, and usually did so without incident. Bill noted that modern GPS is much more effective with a little bit of knowledge about your trip beforehand. For example, even if the GPS tells you it’s faster to take the ferry across the lake to get to Burlington, in the winter just a little bit of local knowledge reminds you that the time of arrival doesn’t take into account the amount of time you have to wait for the spring thaw. 

There was something different, better in some ways, certainly more satisfying, when you had to pull out the map or the atlas and look at pictures of your options. And then make a call. Beth was brilliant back in the day at seeing the routes in her mind after turning a few pages in one of the maps we had piled under the front seats in our minivans. For sure you can “see” where you are on the dashboard screen or your phone, but there’s a bit more info, and certainly more of what one might call romance, in answering the “Mommy, where are we?” coming from the back seat with a map. 

“Right here, Honey!”

No great insight here. We’ll keep on using Waze and Maps apps of one sort or another, mostly because we can. Still, something is missing in the experience, even if it’s only the pleasure of watching Beth re-fold another map into its picture-perfect, just out of the wrapper, original self. 

4 Language. Specifically, “love language”: how someone expresses their love. It’s really not as simple as just saying “I love you”, although for sure there are plenty of people who can say that, and do say that, and get across the reality that they do, in fact, love you. When they say “I love you” it’s much, much more than a simple salutation; they are just flat out stating the fact out loud directly to you. More often is the case that the expression of love is couched in terms that you may not initially understand or hear as “I love you”.

The best example from my adult life was brought to my attention, like so many other really important things, when I expressed a frustration to Beth. Having moved hundreds of miles away from family we raised our kids without the benefit of having either set of parents there to offer “on the ground” insights when it was our turn as parents to hit a speed bump. Kids come preassembled without any instructions. I’ve never done anything more difficult than my part of raising our kids. 

Anyway, I was fried one time after a hard patch with our oldest. Nothing bad, really, just the hard work of raising a bright, strong-willed first born. “It never ends! How do we even know if we’re getting it right? How do we know if he knows how hard we are trying, how much we love him?” Into my hands plops the answer. “Strong Boys”, a book about how boys communicate, especially when they are young. It was always there. He always knew, and more than that he was always telling us, telling me. 

I just didn’t know the language. 

According to the “Strong Boys” author boys, and especially young boys, express their love by helping. “Let me get that” or “need me to hold something” is code for something that is pretty much the same as “I love you” from someone else. Our other two had their own way of saying it. My point isn’t so much about how to read your kids as it is to remind that “love language” can be very different in the different people who are in your life. Heck, sometimes letting YOU do the helping is precisely equal to your third-grade son holding the yard waste bag while you rake. 

In these fraught times it can seem as if we get altogether too much criticism and not enough love. That may actually be the case, of course. There has been a coarsening of social intercourse of all kinds. It is hard to detect whether there is that much more criticism coming our way by volume, or if that negativity is simply so much more blunt that it just feels like more. On top of that, if we somehow miss it when someone is telling how much they love us, well, that just makes the negative stuff sting all the much more. 

We’re all hurting a bit now. Sometimes, when we hurt, we might not hear someone else’s “love language”. It’s as if our pain, whatever its cause, makes it more difficult to translate “let me get that for you” into the “I love you” it’s meant to convey. But it’s there. It’s still there. Your people, family and friends, close colleagues who’ve always covered your 6, they’re all still there. They all still love you for all the reasons they’ve always loved you. Now, when we all need it the most, we are surrounded by people telling us how much they love and cherish us. 

To receive it we just have to keep our ears, and our hearts, open to their “love language”. 

I’ll see you next week…

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