23 October 2011
It was Maddie's turn this weekend.
Like her brother, she was more quiet on this trip than she typically is when in Riley's company. Part of that can be chalked up to not feeling well—she's had a cold to varying degrees since starting school in early September, and this weekend things hit a particularly low point—but some of it also seems to be a phenomenon of not being so chatty when there's no one to compete with. Or maybe when I'm listening to half as much talking it just seems quiet. Hmmm.
We had a really nice, relaxing time. We started with some shopping on the way out of town, stocking up on spices at Penzey's (Maddie is very olfactory and loved sniffing all the sample jars) and then picking up some fun bath stuff at Lush (I'm addicted to the Grass shower gel and we got Maddie a super fun bath bomb. We arrived at the beach to dismal weather, but chose to hit the pool, try out the bath bomb, eat some dinner, watch a movie, and snuggle up in bed together for an early night.
Maddie fell asleep almost immediately. It had been a long day, she was not feeling well, and we stayed up "late" for the movie. As she fell asleep and then throughout the night, her sleeping habits called to my mind the 5 Love Languages. OK, I know: SO HOKEY! I had never heard of the 5 Love Languages until, oh, over a year ago when a guy I went out with a few times mentioned them and the idea kind of stuck with me. I've still not read any of the books, but I tend to like these overly simplistic ways of categorizing emotions, actions, and feelings; I find these broad ways of categorizing behavior useful when trying to identify what's important to me and for gaining perspective on actions of others that seem otherwise without any identifiable motivation.
So the love languages, for those not familiar, are: physical touch, quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation, and receiving gifts. I put them in the order for which they resonate for me. The first two are pretty much tied as far as I'm concerned, with the second two being also tied and totally meh, and the last one (gifts) a distant, distant last. But that's neither here nor there. What I started to wonder about, as I was all snuggled in with Maddie, was how early a preference for one language over another might start to manifest. It's clear to me that for Maddie, as for myself, physical touch is very important. Even in sound sleep, that child could seek me out and needed contact with me even if just with a finger. I kept waking up to find a hand on my shoulder, a foot on my leg, her whole body pressed against mine. If I would move away (HOT!!!), she'd fling out an arm, searching for me, or scootch closer, closer, closer, until she made contact.
Riley's pretty sunggly, to be sure, but not at this base even-while-sleeping level. In fact, I'm not sure what I'd say his primary love language is at this point. Maybe quality time? I think all kids love some quality time; that's certainly big for Maddie, too. And receiving gifts! What child does not love to receive a gift!
I'm sure the Love Langauges people have something to say about when and how these preferences develop and how they change, or don't, over time. I haven't bothered to look into that. But it was nice, for two of us who feel emotionally fulfilled by that physical closeness, to snuggle up together and listen to the waves. As another example of that, we sat right up next to each other at dinner, on a bench on the same side of the table rather than across from each other as the menus had been set out.
The Love Languages people say that we are often drawn to partners who do not share the same linguistic priorities. I have seen friend couples for whom this is true, and it can be quite stressful. John and I were totally on the same page about this. We always held hands, and he was especially good at doing things for me that he knew I didn't enjoy doing for myself (acts of service). We were slightly out of phase on quality time (he needed more alone time than I did, which I sometimes took too personally), but we never gave each other gifts and that was fine with both of us. Whew. This all strikes me as a morning person/night person kind of thing: it's super helpful when both people in a couple are on the same page, and when not, it's way more stressful than it seems it should be. Insurmountable? Probably not, but nice to have an awareness.
And so I had a special appreciation of my time with my snuggly girl last night. I reminded myself of how important that touch was to her as she did that typical small child thing of turning herself completely around more than once in the night and connecting to me physically by kicking me in the face. It comes from a place of love, right? It comes from a place of love.