Sunday, April 16, 2006

the sound of my voice

There are thousands of songs about romantic love. Poetry, fiction and movies reflect our fascination with the heady rush of a new romance. It is considered human nature to seek out the affections of a partner. There is something within us that yearns for a powerful and passionate love.

The love we feel for our children is something that you don't hear about nearly as much. Sure, there are songs, poems and works of fiction that are centred around a parent's love for their child. Compared to the vast works on romantic love, though, there is so very little written about this pure and abiding love. I sometimes wonder why we don't speak more of our bond with our children. Is it because authors and songwriters fear boring their audiences and readers? Or is it because this love is just presumed?

I honestly don't know why parental love is so comparatively unspoken. When I had children, all previous notions of unconditional love seemed pale and pallid in the face of this astonishing, overwhelming emotion that hit me like a body blow. If anything, my love has only grown fiercer with time. I am a parent; this is how we love.

My love for Fatty is no less deep, but it is different. It is more complicated. It is more conditional. If he were to hit me, or constantly belittle me, or have affairs - my love would wilt, wither and expire. I promised to love him for better or worse, but I'm not a punching bag or a masochist. Some things are vow-breakers. So I cannot honestly say I would love him, no matter what. But my children I would love in the face of any wrongdoing - vicious cruelty or the most hideous crime. I may not like what they'd done, I may not even like my son or daughter any longer, but my love would be unwavering. It cannot be switched off or snuffed out. I know this, without question. And I have seen this love in the actions of parents the world over.


I know I've been guilty of bemoaning the challenges of parenting, and I have followed in the footsteps of many other tired parents. Yet the negative aspect of having children is so insignificant compared to the seam-bursting happiness that children bring. For not only do we love our children profoundly - our children love us unreservedly in return.

Last week, my children spent a night away from us. My mother was helping us out with childcare, and it suited her better to collect the children a day early. So I waved a cheery goodbye to my kiddies, trying not to think of the time my mother drove sedately into the side of a bus (She says she just didn't see it. I find this faintly disturbing...after all, buses are not exactly small. I should explain that this is the one and only accident that my mother has been involved in, and she is otherwise a careful driver. Nevertheless, when she's driving my kids, I suddenly recall the incident with the invisible bus!). I waited for Mum to phone me to say they'd arrived at the farm in one piece.

My dear mother phoned me on arrival, and spoke to me as you would to a fretful child - soothingly, patiently.

"They're fine, love. They're excited that we're going to have spaghetti bolognaise for dinner."

"So they're not sad? They're OK?"

"Well, Ben got a bit upset about halfway here." Mum conceded. "He started crying, and told me he wanted to go home. In fact he got quite angry when he yelled TAKE ME BACK TO MUMMY! and TURN THE CAR AROUND! and I didn't do what he asked." Her voice was fond and I knew Mum had handled this episode with her characteristic kindness and patient resolve.

"Actually, it was rather sweet", Mum continued. "He tried to persuade me to go back, telling me but I LOVE Mummy. Then he added tearfully, I love the sound of her voice."

I smiled into the phone receiver. I could hear Ben playing happily in the background, so I knew his anxiety had passed. And what a thrill it gave me to hear his words, repeated to me.

There is nothing special about my voice. It is a regular kind of voice - not especially soothing, not especially lilting or sweet. No one has ever complimented me on my voice. But that was before I became a parent. Now, my voice is beloved to my son simply because it is his mother's voice.

I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams.


shellyC said...

Beautiful post Jelly!! I hear you about the unconditional Love of ones children.....with out a doubt the most powerful of emotions.

Not sure if my kids like the sound of my voice as they quite often tell me to "stop singing".

doubleknot said...

I also am a mother of two. When my daughter does something and says 'My Mom taught me that' I think well I must have done something right.
I miss my kids.

Alice said...

Yet another wonderful posting. That's so sweet that Ben loves the sound of your voice.

I agree that the love for one's children is a very powerful emotion which doesn't decrease just because they have become adults. However, I feel that there are far too many children today who don't experience a deep and protective love of parents and family. They are are caught in the middle of hostile parents and are used like bargaining chips. Children really only ask for love and protection - it's so little to ask.

TUFFENUF said...

I shouldn't be, but I am sometimes a little embarrassed the way that I miss my son when he is away from me. I loved him even before I met him, and instantly when I fist laid eyes on him. Truly, love at first sight. I am glad you feel as strongly as I do about this. It is refreshing to know someone else just as "crazy" about their kids.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

That was a very sweet post Jelly. We mothers do have an unconditional love for our children, no matter what they do, we still love them.
And when they went with your mum, it's nice to hear that you were missed, but it's also nice to hear that they adjusted to your absence just fine.

Even as a mother of adult children it is still nice to know that I am missed and that they desire my company and my love...and it still is comforting to get that call that they have reached their destination in fine condition.

T. said...

Great Jelly. Like I haven't already shed enough tears today! What a beautiful post. And so true... Thank you for sharing it with us. Now I must go and buy me some waterproof mascara. Something tells me I might need it today!

Heather said...

Aw, Jelly! That was such a sweet post! And I am sure your voice is beautiful! I would compliment you on it if I heard it. I'm certain. :-)

Franny said...

You got me all teary-eyed! You're right about the quality of love for children and spouses...and brave to admit it. I love my husband so much, but it pales in comparison to what I feel for the kids. When they are disappointed, I am 10x as disappointed.
It is so terribly sweet that they love the sound of your voice! Hey, if ever your mother wants more kids to sit, I got loads of 'em!
God bless mommys!!!!!

Kerri said...

And I am blessed to read your affectionate account of an especially sweet little slice of your life.
You make me laugh and you make me cry Jelly :)
I Must show this post to my daughters. They'll love it too. Maybe I'll even 'send' my son over :) (and my DIL) He's the father of our two dear little grandsons. My daughters have yet to produce any offspring, in spite of my efforts to encourage them :)
Maybe this will help!
Absolutely loved this post Jelly! You write SO beautifully!!! I just know your voice is sweet :)

susan said...

It is a good thing you have that unconditional love, you will need it when they become teenagers. They may hear your voice, but they certainly won't listen to it!

Enjoy the simple times. Great writing as always, thanks.

Moogie said...

What a wonderful post! Though you are wrong about your voice. It is wonderful even though I've not heard it. How do I know this for sure? Why, Ben said so, that's how, and that is all that matters.

cmhl said...

isn't that amazing???

my kids like to wear my tshirts for sleep shirts, b/c they smell like me. it boggles my mind..

my mother smells like jergens lotion and noxema. I love both of those smells..

My float said...

What a lovely thing for your son to say. I sometimes forget how special my son is, probably because he's around all the time, but he won't always be. Some day soon (too soon) he'll go to school and then his life away from me will begin. Am going to go and give him yet another big hug and smoochy kiss. He'll just laugh and wriggle away because he gets them all the time.

Btw, I linked in from Missing My Bug.

Abandoned in Pasadena said...

I have tagged you for a meme (sorry). Details are on my blog. But only participate if you want to (though I love them, I feel bad forcing meme's onto others...).

somershade said...

That was beautiful,I e-mail it to my friend.And the bus made me laugh.

MrsGreenThumb said...

I don't want to rain on your parade, but... Remember those wonderful, loving thoughts, all too soon they will be teen-agers and really getting on your last nerve. I loved being a mom until they reached 13, at which point I thought they should be put out for adoption until they were 20. Someone gave me a refrigerator magnet that says "Grandchildren are your reward for not killing your teenagers." I do feel all warm and fuzzy about my 7 grandchildren. And I don't even mind the teenagers because they're their parents problem. :)
P.S. I only have boys so maybe girls are different. They all grew up to be pretty nice adults.

manababies said...

*sigh* I am glad I finally had a chance to sit and read this post because I'm in a much better mood now. :)

It is amazing, though... even my 7 month old recognizes my voice.