Love Is An Action
By Cheri Keepers, Youth Frontiers School Relations Representative
“When your child walks into a room, does your face light up?” – Toni Morrison
I have always loved this Toni Morrison quote. It reminds me of my favorite teachers and camp counselors who helped me be my best self by wholeheartedly liking me for exactly who I am. The simple way they remembered my name and connected with me through conversation and humor reminded me that I mattered.
When we show up, when we share love, when we light up our faces when children (or anyone!) walk into the room, we are providing the scaffolding to create meaningful relationships.
When I first became a parent, a mom-mentor gave me some great advice. She encouraged me to imagine a small mirror reflecting my facial expression back to me during each interaction with my children. It helped me be responsible for the energy I was bringing into the moment.
Fast forward to today, when my kids come downstairs in the morning, bleary-eyed and wrapped in a blanket – barely ready to start their day. I softly acknowledge them, individually, mindful of how I might open this day with care.
“Good morning, Finn. How are you today?” or “Owen, good morning! How’d you sleep?” My face brightens and there is a peace that settles as we prepare for a new day. A little later our 10th grader, Simon, stumbles out of bed and without fail yells down, “MOM? Will you wait ’til I get out of the shower before you go?” It is often in that exact moment that I am grabbing my keys and gathering my bag to head out. I pause, and take a moment to welcome gratitude and I yell back (yelling could also be called, “The Keepers family intercom system), “SURE!”
I sit back down, have some coffee and let my face light up because I am grateful for the practice of love. I am grateful for the small moments that we can show up for our children and for one another.
Some days, this practice comes easily. Of course, right? I got it. Love is an action. It’s easy to be great at honoring others on our best days. I am working on how to do this on my most challenging days – the days that seem to stack-up insurmountable challenges and moments of frustration and impatience. The little things that feel like big things in the moment – the laundry forgotten in the washer, the missing shoe as we are rushing out the door, the late-dinner-turned-later-bedtime that makes me feel rushed and pushy with my children as we move through our days together. It is in these moments that I am trying to better honor the people in my life. Let myself lean into the messiness and imperfection. Offer a smile or my kindest eyes and be fully in that moment. It’s in these times of adversity when the actual practicing comes in.
Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” This honoring of others and bright-eyed acknowledgment is an action of love. It is the everyday showing up of life, standing firm on the scaffolding we have built.