I Can’t Talk to My Kids

It’s a rare Saturday—one of those precious days when I haven’t scheduled 73 things to do in 24 hours—which means it’s a PJ day, too. There’s just something glorious about not fixing your hair, putting on make-up, and preparing yourself for the public. Can I get an amen, sister?

Love Language

And in my moments of relaxing bliss with a rom-com in the Blue-ray (yes, young moms, these days will once again exist for you, too!), it happens. Kelli walks into the living room, looks at me for a few silent seconds, and declares, “Mom, you look rachet.”

I pause Sandra Bullock and Bradley Cooper to ask, “I look what?”

Kelli laughs at my ignorance, which draws Randi from her bedroom asking what’s so funny.

With an ever-so-slight hint of apology in her eyes, Kelli says again, “Mom looks…rachet.”

Randi examines the evidence before her, and her facial expression morphs into something painful as she says, “She does.” With her face still squished, she nods at me. “Mom, you do.”Rachet

By now I’ve figure out rachet isn’t a compliment, but it’s PJ day.

Rachet may not look good, but rachet sure feels good!

Yet, my girls just stand there looking at me like they expect something. And suddenly I wonder when it happened—because somehow I missed it.

When did I go from being the mom who used vocabulary her kids didn’t know to the mom who doesn’t know the vocabulary her kids use?

Although I’m not certain of the exact meaning of rachet, I decide not to ask for the definition of the word or for the origin of the word or for the word to be used in a sentence (since Kelli already did that). I decide I understand it well enough, and I tuck that word into my PJ pocket. I got this. I’ll show them.

So the next morning, in spite of getting off duty at 3 AM, my hubby walks into the kitchen ready for church. His blood-shot eyes are carrying around two Samsonite bags. I take one look and realize the moment is here. I whisper to the girls, “Dad looks rachet.”

Instantly, the girls double-over. The only indication they are laughing rather than cramping from dysentery is the look on their faces because their laughter is so deep it’s silent. After 47 seconds they come up for a big gulp of air, and Randi cackles in broken sentences: “M…mo… mom…said…”

(more silent laughter, pounding of fists on the countertop, clinging to one another to avoid collapsing on the floor)

“Mom said rachet!” Randi finally manages to push out between her blue, oxygen-deprived lips.

And I’m confused. I’m certain I understand the basic meaning of the word. It wasn’t so funny when they said it…but when I say the word…now it’s hysterical? Yeah, I don’t get it.

Apparently my kids are bilingual, and I’m not cool enough to speak their language. So I decide when Randi says things like “shoes on fleek” or Kelli swoons “that’s my bae,” I will just smile and nod like I don’t need a translator.

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And don’t even get me started on texting. TBH IDK why my kids LOL at me…or why K in place of OK expresses anger…or why it’s wrong to text a question mark at the end of a question.

Yep. My girls speak a language I don’t understand.

But there is another language they speak—a most important language—and in that I am fluent. It’s called love language.

Now, if you’re a Gary Chapman fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about. But if not, you’re probably thinking, “That sounds kinda weird.”

But weird it is not. It is sacred. Love language holds this family together.

And now you’re saying, “OMGeesh! My family has to speak that! How do we learn love language?”

You don’t.

You already know it.

Do you have a little darling who asks lots of questions that end with the words “with me”? In our house, that would Timebe Randi: Wanna watchYouTube videos with me? Wanna listen to some 80s music with me? Wanna pet my cat with me? That’s Randi, speaking her love language. And because I’m fluent, I understand she’s really saying, “When you spend QUALITY TIME with me, I know you love me.”

Or maybe the key to your little one’s heart is words. That’s Kelli. Nothing says “I love you” to her more than WORDS OF AFFIRMATION. If she is studying for finals, I know she needs me to Wordssay, “You got this, babe.” When she’s facing conflict, I know she needs to talk through it, my attention must be undivided, and at the end she needs to hear, “I think you’re making the right decision.” And if I really want her to feel loved, all I need to say is, “I’m proud of you.” Then I won’t see her for a few hours because she’ll be busy floating around in the clouds.

Quality time and words of affirmation…those are my girls’ love languages. And when I speak their language, Gary Chapman says I’m filling their love tanks. And what mom doesn’t want her child’s love tank to be running over?

When a home is really happy, Mom and Dad have full love tanks, too. That’s why before he goes to bed each night, Rusty grinds fresh coffee beans and makes sure my coffee pot is set for morning. He’s turned loading the dishwasherService into a strategic maneuver, and if I say, “I sure wish I had some Double Stuf Oreos,” it won’t be long before I hear his keys rattle and he’ll ask if there’s anything else I need from the store. We moms spend a lot of time taking care of everyone else, so when hubby does little ACTS OF SERVICE to take care of me, he’s speaking my love language.

And when he speaks my love language, that makes me speak his, and it goes like this: a kiss good Touchmorning and a kiss good night with a couple of hugs between; reaching over to hold his hand in church during prayer; my leg thrown over his and my hand on his chest in our go-to-sleep position. PHYSICAL TOUCH fills his love tank.

Although the final love language, GIFTS, is not a primary language for anyone in our family, we do enjoy the giving and receiving! But maybe it’s a love language in your home. Do you have a little Giftsgirl who gives you dandelion bouquets or who covers your fridge in pictures? Is there a shoebox in your closet filled with things she’s made for you? Yep. She’s speaking fluent gifts.

Did you notice, though, no one in my family speaks the same love language? That can be a source of conflict…because we tend to give love the same way we receive love. You might like those flowers hubby surprised you with (because his love language is gifts), but what would really make you feel loved is if he told you to go start your warm bubble bath after dinner because he’s cleaning up the kitchen for you (because your love language is service). Filling love tanks takes work. You have to be intentional.

When Randi insists the TV be turned off during every dinner so we can have quality family time (even if it is March Madness), Rusty hits the button on the remote. When Kelli takes twenty minutes to tell me about a two-minute event in her day, I soak up the details and make sure my words love her in return.

And when your little guy wraps himself around your leg and wants to wrestle, hit the carpet because he’s asking you to speak his love language of physical touch. Or when your princess thanks you for making her bed and lining up her stuffed animals just the way she likes them, she’s feeling loved by your act of service.

When you know your child’s love language, you can love them so much better. But love language can be dangerous, too. It can hurt.

You know those days when you’ve had it and you’re tired and nothing’s gone right? And out of impatience or anger or just sheer exhaustion you say something you don’t really mean—or at least you don’t mean it the way it came out? Those words can hurt any child, but for a child who feels love through your words…ouch.

And we all know that look in a child’s eyes when he’s asked the “with me” question again—only to be told “later” again—because our quality time goes to laundry or paying bills or…Pinterest. This child feels the no.

When you speak love language in your home, there’s one important rule my family has learned. You don’t use love language and expect something in return. That’s manipulation. You just love.

Right about now you’re thinking, “Hhmmm…wonder what my love language is…?” And now you’re thinking, “Hhmmm…wonder what my family’s love language is…?” Well, stop all that wondering and take THIS QUIZ to discover your love language! Make the whole family take the quiz! And then start speaking love fluently! Five Love Languages

As we celebrate Easter this week, there’s no doubt God speaks all the love languages, but I’m especially thankful for the one described in John 3:16. God loved us so much He gave His only Son. He gave. He loved us by giving us the greatest GIFT of all.

The MOM Journey is now coast to coast, but if you’re in the Parkland and looking for a place to worship Easter Sunday, CLICK HERE  for my invitation. I’ll try not to look too rachet in case I see you there!


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  1. Lois Orr says:

    I had never heard of this but am now interested in finding out more! Thanks for inspiring us!!

    • Karen says:

      Rusty and I used to host a love languages class back in the day…but then our VHS broke! They finally came out with a DVD. I ordered it last week!

  2. Donna says:

    really enjoyed that!

  3. A-M says:

    This is fantastic. Knowing the different languages of my people is huge. Love thinking about this and reflecting on the different ways their languages show up in everyday life and conflict. Thank you for this.

  4. Holly says:

    You literally brought tears to my eyes when you talk about, “when your little guy wraps himself around your leg because he wants to wrestle, and when your little princess wants her bed just right, with all of her stuffed animals lined up in a row. You have described my children to a T.

    I love you blog! You are an inspiration! Keep up the great work!

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