Gestures of love

“Each person’s way of expressing their love is different. Mine is not like yours.”

Hot tears of disappointment roll down my cheeks as I slowly struggle to sound out my words,

“Mom, I love you.  Each person’s way of expressing their love is different.  Mine is not like yours.”

Touched, my mom quickly reaches her arms out and embraces me tightly as we both cry our eyes out.

“Shhh, ssh, I know.  I know now.” she whispers.

I learn that in life, there are millions of ways to express love, whether it is the love for your family members, your friends, your partner, or yourself.  The problem arises when you misunderstand the other person’s intentions…arguments often follow.

Recently, our family’s car insurance policy suddenly is cancelled by our agent.  We do not know the reason why he cut us but now my mom is forced to find a new insurance company.

Because my mom loves me, she does not want to burden me with family troubles so she tries to take care of it by herself.  She attempts to call other insurance companies and compare prices on her own.  I assume (ASSUME!) everything is swell until she asks me to print the forms out so she can sign and return the papers to the new insurance company.  I tell her I will do that, but I want to sit her down and read through the policy with her to make sure we know what we are paying for.

My mom gets really upset and accuses me of implying that her English is not fluent and that I make it extremely difficult for her to ask any favors from me.  She walks to the kitchen and starts to marinate the pork meat noisily.  The clattering noises she makes while she angrily cooks in the kitchen, warned and threatened both my dad and me to stay out of her way.  Shocked and confused, I slump on the couch in the living and tries to make sense of it all.   I don’t understand.  Why does she think that way?

I do not want to let this misunderstanding get worse so I decide to confront her.  I softly say, “Mom, I just want to help you.  I know you have been fine all these years with buying insurance, but I was just looking out for you.”

“I don’t want to burden you because you are so busy all the time.” my mom replies.

“But mom, don’t worry about that, if I’m busy and I can’t help you, I will let you know.  But if you need help but you don’t let me know, how can I help you?”

By then, my mom and I were both crying our eyes out.  I think what I did broke through her invisible walls.  She tends to put up the entire act because she is trying to hide her vulnerability.  She is trying to act strong for me, for the whole family to go about with our lives without feeling the weight she has been carrying.  I call my mom’s gesture of love as the “unobservable gestures of love.”  Some of the unobservable actions she has done often go unnoticed by my sister and me but you can definitely feel the effects of her anger and frustrations when she can no longer handle the burden she carries on her shoulders each day.  When things crumble out of my beloved mom’s hands, you will finally learn what made her act angry, distant and childish.  This, is one of those moments.

Thanks to my mom, I have been living happily, oblivious to the burdens she has to carry. However, now that I can help the family, it is really hard to help my mom without making her feel threatened or powerless.  For me, my way of showing I care is by assisting when I’m asked to help, and looking out for my parents in situations when I’m asked to be involved.  I do not want to be nosy and bug them about little things because my dad’s and my ways of showing we care are by resolving the problem together, and acting happy and unaffected by mom’s little thunderstorms in order to keep the artificial peace in the house.  My dad and I try to make big problems turn into small, we dissect things and we solve it together as a family.  My dad and my way of showing love is what I call, “observable gestures of love.”  Unfortunately, my poor mom tends to contain the problems to herself and unintentionally grow them bigger than they should be.  Our ways of showing we care often get twisted through words and actions that had only one goal, to express our love for each other.

From tonight’s experience, I can sum up to you the 5 gestures of love that exist in my family.  I’m sure everyone has various ways that they express their love.  My mom’s way is unobservable, while my dad and I are observable.  The other 3 categories for gestures of love are verbal, physical, and selflessness. Verbal gestures of love is when I tell my mom that I love her, and physical gestures of love is when my mom hugs and pats me on my head after she finally understands my intentions.  Lastly, the selflessness gesture of love is when you look beyond all the pain and disappointments your loved one inflicted on you and you forgive.  I forgive the things my mom says to me because I love her.

Each person’s way of expressing their love is different.  What are your gestures of love?

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