The other night, my husband and I were watching TV. (For all of you who know we have recently moved and know that we have a million projects we could be working on instead of watching TV, well, we needed a break!) Strangely, we were both drawn to the Cosby show marathon on TVland.
One episode that we were watching was about Denise leaving for college. I know that I probably have seen that episode several times both as a young child and as an adult, but there was one scene that hit me so hard and really got me thinking. The strong, but loving mom, Claire Huxtable pulls her daughter aside and wishes her goodbye before she leaves for school and she says, "Denise, I am proud of you. Not because I love you, but because I like you."
Whoa. It hit my heart like a thousand arrows piercing my soul. It really affected me and made me think of my little girls and my relationship with them. I know the moment that I found out they existed that I loved them. And I know for the rest of my life no matter what, I will always love them. That is unconditional love. But to "like" them is a completely different story.
Will I like them when they make decisions in their life that I don't agree with? Will I like them when they purposefully disobey me? Will I like them when their philosophies don't mesh with mine? Will I like them if they ever hurt someone else or me? I can always love them, but liking is a pretty big deal.
Why would liking someone be harder than loving them? Loving requires forgiveness, loyalty, a deep affection and a commitment to their well-being. What does liking someone require? Perhaps it is easy to say it requires the attributes that I have listed above for loving someone, but I think liking someone is the desire to be around them and enjoy their qualities.
So my little ones are, well, little, but I can honestly say that I really do like them. Peanut is funny and easy going and makes me laugh. Jelly Bean is sweet and cuddly and makes me feel needed. That is why I like them.
And I hope it is always like this though it is hard to say what the future will bring. But I pray that I can sweetly look into my daughters' eyes one day and tell them the truth, "I am proud of you, not because I love you, but because I like you."
I believe that is the best compliment a mother can give her child.