Walking in the grocery store freezer aisle with my mom. I was between knee and hip height, so maybe 4-5 years old?
We were having a friendly argument, as she walked along, reaching into the various cases and pulling out items. It was morning, and had that mid-early-ish feel - good energy, not tired. In my memory, the light was fairly golden - not sure if that was the lighting itself, or just the mood.
I was absolutely full up with love for my mom that day. She was beautiful, golden hair and honey skin and ease of movement. As I followed along, there was an easy companionship between us, things were just rolling, and I told her I loved her.
She said she loved me, too.
I love you more.
Back and forth it went a few times with a little humor, but I eventually became serious. I knew I loved her more than she could possibly love me. (hahahahaha)
She stopped with the door of the freezer case open, and looked at me with affection and sympathy. Took out what she needed, closed the door, smiled down at me and said something like the following (the words exact version are lost in my memory, what remains is my sudden grasping - really GETTING - what she said, and my mental note that this was really important information I was being entrusted with):
I will always love you more than you can imagine. Parents love their children more than kids love parents. It's the way it works, and it's okay. You won't understand, and I don't really expect you to. But you can trust that it is the way things should work, and that you don't need to do anything or change anything. How much you love me is just right, and how much I love you is just right, and there's no point comparing them. If you have kids, then you'll understand. Until then, don't worry about it, it's okay.
Her words were gentle and compassionate, not frustrated or angry or disappointed or hurt. Just acceptant, kind, loving. Mom at her best.
I remember the mental absorption of that moment, like I was coming out of a dream to full awareness, coming to the surface to breathe... the sense of acceptance of what was, totally, clearly, cleanly. She really did not mind at all that I loved as a child loves, and did not mind that her love for me was greater than that (and having children now, I so get it). I could feel that in me, as a physical understanding of her intention. I remember realizing that I did not understand, but was willing to accept what she was willing to accept. And also the feeling of being trusted with that small shining jewel of knowledge to tuck away for later.
Many years later I closed the loop, connected the dotted line from that point to the future me and back to that moment, standing in the freezer aisle of the grocery store. After Mr G was born (about 6 weeks in, when things were settling in), I went out and bought a thank-you card for my mom. In it, I wrote, 'Thanks, mom. I finally understand.'
As Goddess Babe noted yesterday, kids do not usually really understand the good stuff. They generally have a clearer picture of the negatives - but even then, they mistake everything for what should be, place blame inaccurately, work the world against their limited cognitive skills into shapes that make sense to them. And then they grow up, and hopefully, they grow some clues. As they see into other people's lives, they see the problems they would not want to live with, and the places where their lives have had what they needed to grow.
Even then, many do not really get it until they have kids of their own (and that just raises even more questions, even as it gives answers in a few places).
Miss M is smack in this stage right now - full of love and affection, almost sticky sweetness, making things for everyone, hugging gently, saying how much she loves us. I remember that feeling of being full up and overflowing, my body a vessel too full of affection to hold it in.
And now, my body is too small a vessel at all - there's a universe of love there, not just a vessel-full. It is endless and boundless, flows out from depths beyond even my understanding.
One day, I hope they understand. For now, it's okay.