Living your life on purpose—baggage and all—is complicated enough. We are simple beings complicated by the experiences in our life and the continuing paradox of balancing between our strengths and weaknesses. Why on Earth would you want to complicate life by disliking someone first? I’ve always envisioned the day my children would start bringing their significant others to meet their dad and me and I vowed I would love them before even meeting them. Why? The love I felt for my child would extend to the one they love.
I remember as a young girl, I craved belonging to a family unit. One of my defining moments was when my mother passed away suddenly when I was twelve. My big (yet close) family was separated without warning and life became a nightmare. As I lived out the rest of my childhood years, I prayed to God for a mom. I prayed to God for love. I prayed to God to belong. This yearning to be “somebody” was even greater when I realized I knew only half of my gene pool. With the constant reminder that I was different, I felt lost, unloved and alone.
As I went on to meet my husband, I remember the first time he brought me to meet his mother. I thought she was a lovely woman…that is until my then (not quite) boyfriend left the room. His mother looked at me and coldly said, “If you get pregnant, it is on you.” I felt humiliated…frankly I felt like a cheap whore although we had just met. At that time, I blamed myself for not being lovable or likeable.
As I had my children, I made a vow to love their significant others first. I was neither naive nor a fool. I saw that there were a lot of aunts, mothers, and sisters (including my own) who had issues with girlfriends and wives. My intuition told me to enjoy each stage with my boys in particular and start letting go little by little. I practiced what I said with my brothers’ significant others, even through ups and downs in their relationships. My rule was simple with my brothers: I’ll love them when you do. It helped me to think of my brothers before I reacted to anything said. My guidance was a simple test that worked in all situations: Would my action hurt my brother?
I have come to realize that my social responsibility goes beyond my loved one and extends to their significant other. As a 45-year-old woman, my actions can either help the younger generation thrive or it can negatively change who they are.
I loved her before I met her
I have had a chance to put my values to the test twice and only now I was a seasoned adult who understood my social responsibility to help (not hurt) any young adult I came into contact with. I had a chance to meet my oldest son’s (Tristan) girlfriend earlier last year when I visited him in New York. My son also brought his girlfriend home for the Christmas holiday. She stayed with us for two weeks. I remember before she came, my husband and I made sure she had the best accommodations. She had a room and bathroom to herself and little niceties only another girl would appreciate.
Her time here was blissful. Her nerves were put to rest when she saw that everyone welcomed her with open arms. Over the two weeks she was here, each and every one of us fell in love with her. This was so easy to do especially when I knew most, if not all of us, loved her just because Tristan did. There was nothing more to do…except love her more!
Why love first
There are so many reasons to love your children’s significant other by default:
- You nurture your child.
- When you treat your child’s significant other negatively, you hurt your child.
- It feels good.
- Your child’s significant other will love you in return.
- It spreads goodness.
How you can learn to love first
- Don’t make it over-complicated; it’s just love.
- Take the significant other out of the equation and ask yourself whether your actions or behavior would hurt YOUR child.
- Do nice things to build the relationship.
- Realize that young adults assume you are wiser so act like the person they think you are.
When it was time for my son and his wonderful girlfriend to leave, everyone was a bit sad…including the lady of the hour. It was oh so blissful. See, it was easy to extend love to her just because. The fact that the little booger stole a piece of my heart was just the icing on the cake!