I love going to visit my parents. Every time we go, the kids have a great day with their grandparents. They’ll laugh, smile, run around; and I’m reminded of the life I had before I met my husband. But what I love most about visiting my parents is remembering how much my mother and father love me, despite how little we actually see each other.
As I was leaving their house on Sunday afternoon, I laughed as I gathered up several bags on their kitchen bench. The bags were filled with lollies, chocolates, Vietnamese instant noodles, a seafood dish my mother just cooked for lunch, drinks and even several pairs of pants she’d bought for me recently.
My mum wanted me to take it all home. I was hesitant; I was worried she wouldn’t have enough food and drink for herself. But she told me that she always bought more than enough for whenever my brother and I came to visit. She was adamant that I take it.
After we got back to our house, I started unpacking the bags and looking for places to store the food in our pantry. I smiled as I thought about my mother, and about how much she loved me. I smiled because this was her way of showing me that she cared.
Love can be shown in different ways
My mum was never really the physically affectionate type. She didn’t hug me often, nor did she say that she loved me.
But she was the sort of mother that didn’t want me to take the bus to school. So she drove me all 13 years of my school life. She was the sort of mother who’d ask what food I wanted for my birthday party, then cook all the way into the night. She was the sort of mother who would sit my two brothers, my sister and I down to eat, before she would eat, herself. My father always did the same for us too.
My mum with my oldest daughter, Alisha (at 3 months old in 2007)
My mum and I still have many differences, but we are similar in the way that we show love. We don’t just show it through hugs, through kisses, through empty words. We prove it through the actions that we take.
And I believe everyone has different ways of showing love, too. Due to our different upbringings, personalities, culture, even our sex; we have different ways of expressing love. There is no right or wrong, though. Some of us show love with hugs and kisses, through gifts, with words, by being there when someone really needs us… Either way, we all do it differently.
Just because a person doesn’t show you love the way you want them to, doesn’t mean that they don’t love you.
Learning different ways to express love
Even if you’ve become accustomed to one way of loving, this doesn’t mean you can’t learn to adapt to another.
Although my parents weren’t known to give hugs often, I have learned to appreciate the beauty of a hug. I met my now-husband seven years ago, whose expression of love was quite different to mine at the time. Unlike me, he really enjoyed giving hugs and was very physically affectionate. But as the years went on, we taught each other different ways to express love, and our relationship has benefited greatly because of this.
Even if you’ve grown up only knowing a certain way (or ways) to love, you are still capable of emotional growth. It’s just a matter of being open-minded to it, and realising that your way isn’t the only way.
Everyone loves differently
Each of us has come to understand love differently, and so it only makes sense that our expression of it differs too.
Sometimes you might feel as though the people in your life don’t really love you, but maybe that’s simply your perception. It could be that they do, but they are just showing you in a different way to what you’re used to.
What matters most isn’t how they show you love, but the fact that they love you at all. Appreciate that, because for some, it’s not easy to express their love. It might even be downright hard.
So if someone shows you love in a different way to what you know: be grateful, thankful, appreciative.
And know that by being grateful, you might actually start to believe that they do love you… just in their own different way.