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Valentine’s Day seems the ideal time to contemplate the meaning of love. Not to be off-putting, but I think most people get it wrong. Love is not what you see on TV — passionate kisses, travel, excitement, diamonds the size of grapes. Or at least that’s only a tiny bit of it. Love, real love, is a whole lot grittier…and a whole lot more mundane. Here are just a few of the ways my husband says, “I love you”:

Love is giving me the last bites of his cake/cookie/pie, despite the fact that he would like to eat it himself, because he knows how much I love sweets.

Love is helping me slow my breath when I’m having an asthma attack.

Love is private jokes, a secret language, references only we know…but love is also taking the time to learn my family’s secret language and odd references, and using them like a pro.

Love is indulging my whim to try every taco place in town in search of the superior taco.

Love is always saying, “Thank you” after I’ve prepared a meal…no matter how inferior.

Love is massaging my shoulders as he passes through the kitchen, squeezing my hand in church, touching my cheek as I watch TV.

Love is accepting that our lives are not glamorous and being happy with simpler pleasures.

Love is going to Mass with me every week for years and years, despite being (at the time) an agnostic, and then surprising me with the happiest possible shock — becoming Catholic himself.

My husband’s love — much like God’s love — is always right there before me…if I take the time to look. Wherever you are this Valentine’s Day, whether in a romantic relationship or not, take time to search for signs of love. They may be simple, but they abound.

This past week, I got one of those phone calls. You know the kind – you hesitate to respond until well into the conversation because you just don’t know what this person’s agenda might be. This woman is a fellow mom and her son didn’t get to participate in an after school activity when all of the slots filled. What’s that have to do with me? The teacher in charge is a good friend. “Is he always so rude?”

Direct. Yes. To the point. Yes. But does he back down? No. And apparently that’s all it took to be really rude simply because junior didn’t get his way. And to make bad matters worse, the teen was confrontational, even in Mom’s version. This is something she expected to end well?

Still, I understand her urge to smooth the way for her son. Today, I found out that my son had been passed over for a special field trip. With only 10 places available, the teacher had to pick and choose. I didn’t know what criteria she used but my son was left out.

My Predatory Mom instinct kicked in and I had to fight the urge to jump into the fray and make things right. And it’s a good thing on many levels. My son apparently didn’t even want to go. “Looks boring.”

What does this have to do with Faith and prayer?

It is much, much easier NOT to jump in if I have Faith in God.

I have to believe that He has a plan both for me and for my son.

I have to understand that everything is part of that plan even if I don’t know how or why.

I have to accept that God’s plan doesn’t mean that things will be easy. There will be times that my son has to struggle. This struggle is part of his own Faith journey. It is part of what will build him into the man he will one day become.

Don’t think that I’m actually good at this. Sometimes I have to make a phone call. “Stop me! I’m tempted to do a crazy mom thing!” Fortunately, God has supplied me with a steady group of friends who intervene when needed.

And it doesn’t mean that I won’t step in when the need arises, but first I have to let my son try. And I have to pray. After all, it’s a great way to keep busy while I see if my son can sort it out on his own. Because his learning to cope is probably a really big part of God’s plan.

After all, God loves us both just as He loves that other mother and son. And that’s something to remember this Valentine’s Day.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

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