Can we love too much?

The question popped into my head while I was picking up my son’s toys tonight. I enjoyed it – picking up his much-loved cars and trucks, placing them around in his favorite spots. He had cleaned up a bulk of his toys, but there were a few stray ones that never made it off of the floor. As I picked each one up, I smiled. He just warms my heart.

I chuckled a little. My husband (separated, and soon to be ex-husband) was in the other room, watching tv and not giving a damn about whether toys were put away, clothes were cleaned or foreheads kissed for the night. He always said I babied my son too much, gave him too much, loved him too much.

And since my son was born three year ago, I’ve always lived with that shame and accepted it. I always accepted my husband’s criticisms of my mothering. But it didn’t stop me, much to his disappointment.

Tonight, as I smiled at the firetruck and lovingly placed it on a shelf, it hit me – I maybe haven’t loved my son too much…maybe? It was a quiet thought, tentative and nervous.

I recently came across a really nice post on Facebook (author unknown) that had planted the seed of maybe being an okay mom. Here it is:

It really resonated with me. My son is three years old and tonight is the first time I’ve thought “maybe it is okay that I have loved him this way.”

I have always hidden how much I loved him, how much I mothered him. I still hide it!

Ready? Here it goes.

  • My son is three and he still falls asleep in my lap every single night.
  • When he cries about the slightest booboo, I sweep him up in my arms and kiss it. Usually we end up laughing about how it doesn’t hurt anymore.
  • I can’t stand to not to give him my 100% attention, when he is with me and trying to learn something new or use new words or sentences to tell me something. I get upset when grown-ass adults try to talk over him. Like they deserve to be heard and tell some stupid work story over any child. This time is precious. It will come and go. Stop and listen.
  • When he wakes up crying in the middle of the night, I don’t make him cry for 20 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes, or 30 seconds before I run to him. I go to his side, I hold him, I love him. I want him to know I am there.
  • Sometimes when I correct him, I can tell he gets a little embarrassed. It isn’t a tantrum cry, but an embarrassed cry. I know the difference. I fix it with a hug and smile and make sure his tender heart is okay.
  • For the first nine months of his life, I held him while he slept. I breastfed to sleep, I dream-fed, I on-demand fed, I pumped and I supplemented with formula without question when he needed it. I held him through the crying, through the teething, through the gassy bellies, through the illnesses. I held him.

It is hard to admit these things. I am embarrassed. I feel like I need to be that perfect “C-I-O” mom and teach them to be independent and perfect. That if I don’t teach my son to cry-it-out and be independent before age three, that he will be a serial killer. That moms will point their fingers at me and chant something horrible like “you coddle him too much!” or “spoiled child!!!”

It’s a real fear. Women do that. We cast our eyes down on others when we can because we are so uncertain about our own positions as moms. Because who the heck knows how their child is going to turn out?! Unless time travel is real, there is absolutely no mother out there that knows what their 2-year-old-child is going to grow up to be, what they will do, or how much they will care about others. We are all in this together, but are unfortunately divided. And husbands like mine sure as heck don’t help with all the static noise.

But the question is: Can we love someone too much?

I decided to Google my question. The first answer was from eHarmony and was a “no, but yes.” Of course we can, to the point of stalking a lover or not taking no for an answer (thanks eHarmony). I fine-tuned my question.

Revised question: Can we love our child too much?

The answers I got were long, complicated and confusing, many from psychology websites or long dissertations. No, we cannot love babies too much. We can, however, love older children too much. Loving a child too much can be worse than being a narcissistic or alcoholic parent. So many expert opinions, so many studies, so many statistics, so many mom stories.

Maybe the question is: Can we give someone too much unconditional love?

I didn’t Google that one. Because I know my answer. No. No, we cannot give someone too much unconditional love. I’m not talking about love “you-can-never-do-any-wrong love” because that’s blind, dangerous love. But the unconditional kind of love. Always-in-your-corner, what-is-mine-is-also-yours kind of love.

I want my son to know I will stand by him through anything. That I will always be there for him, regardless of why he is upset or crying. That his pain is my pain and I will always be there to comfort him even though I won’t always be able to fix the problem. But that if I can help him fix his problem, I will. That whoever he turns out to be in life, I will love him. There is no promised love in this world.

My husband didn’t love me. When he was done with me, he casted me aside and wanted me to disappear like a belch in a windstorm. In turn, my love for him was slowly broken, demoralized and destroyed. It still exists, but only in pieces. Neither of us gave each other the love we wanted or needed; we were always imbalanced. I can’t speak to the love for or from a husband. I don’t know what that is like for the right love to exist.

But my love. My son will have my love forever. On good days, on bad days, for all days.