It’s Valentine’s Day and as a single parent, I have a special take on love.
It only takes a little dating to learn that love encompasses much more than a romantic relationship.
I’ve experienced love in many different forms—the immense joy of watching my children grow and develop into kind, capable adults; my deep, unconditional commitment to them; the respect I have for myself and my own dreams and aspirations. The experience of love can be overwhelming at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I’ve been a single parent for many years and I’ve learned a valuable lesson: Love doesn’t always manifest in the ways we expect.
I find and feel love in the small moments that make up my day-to-day life. From the simple act of a hug when my child is having a hard day, to the smile I receive when I’ve offered to help, to the look of pride in their eyes when they accomplish a new task. These small moments bring me such joy. Love shows up in the kindness or patience I give my children when they need it most, in the unexpected favors I do for them, or the comfort I provide when their lives don’t unfold as planned.
I’m entering the empty nest period of parenthood and I’m realizing that these small moments we share in everyday life reflect the larger acts of love. From the morning groans on getting ready for school or work to the evening chatter around the dinner table, every action grows out of love and caring. My children definitely don’t see it yet, but they will. Just like I have as I’ve gotten older.
Love also means taking care of myself. Despite the demands on my time, I’ve learned to carve out space for the activities I enjoy like reading, writing, or going for a walk. I’ve had to learn to prioritize my own health and well-being, so that I can be the best version of myself for my children.
I’ve also come to appreciate the importance of giving love to friends and family, strangers and acquaintances. I see now know that love is all about what I can give.
Love is a powerful, life-changing force, one that I continue to welcome and nurture so I can continue to spread it to those around me.