Oh, the look on my son’s face when I told him he couldn’t stick his head in the toilet. And when I thwarted his attempt to dive face-first into the empty bathtub. Or that time he figured out how to remove the protective shields from the electric sockets and I had to snatch his hand from certain danger. Those huge brown eyes, that look of shock. “Really, Mommy? Tell ME ‘no’? But I thought you LOVED me.”
That look of surprise typically melts into that smile he knows I can’t resist. He squints his eyes as if to say, “How can you tell this FACE ‘no’?” And he knows just how hard it is. When I steel my resolve against his charming tactics, that smile fades into the most pathetic, heart-rending pout. And when that doesn’t work…the WAIL that says, “If you loved me, you’d let me do whatever I want”.
Of course, big, compassionate sister comes to the rescue with that look. “How could you tell my impossibly cute baby brother ‘NO’?” And as they both stare me down with those eyes I have to explain I was saving him from drowning, cracking his skull, getting electrocuted, or whatever other potential disaster I just helped to evade. I may have even been saving his LIFE. No matter how I explain, they just don’t understand.
I’ve never liked being misunderstood. Especially when I’m saying or doing something because I love someone. The prevailing mindset is if we love someone, we watch them do whatever makes them happy even if we know it’s gonna hurt them. If it makes them happy to walk down the middle of a busy street and step in front of a semi, hey—just let them. If I say there’s a sidewalk to keep them safe from traffic, I’m considered narrow-minded and unloving. Just let me do what I want. The semi’s coming at me full-speed, but don’t intervene. It wouldn’t be loving.
If I love my kids, I’m most certainly going to intervene if something could hurt them (or if they’re about to hurt somebody else). In truth, it would be neglectful not to intervene. It’s the same in any relationship. If I see a friend or loved one nearing the edge of a deadly cliff, the loving thing is to say—and do, something…even if it’s misunderstood.
True love cares more about others’ well being above it’s own. It means being willing to step out of our comfort zones and even risk our reputation, if that’s what it takes to help someone. As for me, I sometimes have to be dubbed “the mean mommy” for a few hours because I cared enough to keep my kid from taste-testing the cat litter. Keeping the ones I love safe (and healthy!) is worth it. Even when I’m misunderstood.