The first Valentine’s Day gift I received from my husband Jacob was a Tiffany necklace he sent via courier in 2012. We were still in a long distance relationship (LDR) back then. In the years that followed, especially because we were far apart and didn’t share the same time zone until 2016, Valentine’s Day was more often about what gifts we would get for one another and love letters we’d write to each other. Last year was the first time we didn’t bother exchanging gifts, since I was confined in the hospital during Heart’s Day, recovering from my C-section delivery of our son Baby Jake.
Baby Jake will be one year and two months old on Feb. 14. Jacob and I are planning on having our Valentine’s date much earlier, so that we can spend quality time together and reserve the Valentine’s weekend for Baby Jake.
Parenthood has made us prioritize and plan our days differently, and it has strengthened our understanding of love.
Love used to be about the contentment my husband and I feel toward each other. It now leans more on giving what we can of ourselves to show Baby Jake how much we love him, and raise him, with hope, to be a thoughtful human being.
This love month, I asked four strong mothers what love means to them, how motherhood has affected their definition of love, and what they want to impart to their children about love.
Love is truly unconditional. —Jeck Maierhofer
Jeck Maierhofer, mother of four and wife of retired PBA basketball player Rick Maierhofer, shares that the verse 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 from the Bible is her primary source for what it means to love. She admits that before marriage and motherhood, she was selfish and careless. She says that “even loving my own self was difficult to do.” When she became a wife and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior, she learned that love involved sacrifice, as she submitted to her husband—following the Biblical definition of wifehood. Now, as a mom, she discovers that love is truly patient and unconditional. And like she does, she wants her kids to value God above all else. “I want them to know how God loves us, so that it will be easy for them to love someone or everyone around them. Everything good follows when you love God first.”
Love is willing to give up anything. —Roxci Vergara
US Navy military wife and mom of two-month-old Riley, Roxci Vergara describes love as sacrifice—without asking or expecting anything in return. “After becoming a mom, I feel like I’ve now entered a new world of love: One that’s all encompassing, willing to give up anything and everything without reason, and one that feels so natural to give,” she shares. And when it comes to imparting lessons of love to her daughter, she hopes to convey that “love comes in many forms, but above all else, she should first know to love herself.”
We are made from love. —Roxci Vergara
Mika Umali has never borne a child, but she is raising two beautiful children as her own: Kolbie who she feels is a son after her own heart, and Sasha who is the daughter of her life partner. For Mika, “Love is the only real thing in this world. Everything else is only an illusion. It is found in us. It is our purpose.” Her perspective of love hasn’t changed, rather she shares, “now that I am mothering these wonderful children like my own, it has somehow deepened my understanding of unconditional love. I find myself doing things that I never thought I could even do without recognition or reward, and never regretting them.” If there’s anything about love she wants to pass on to her kids, it’s “to always remember that we are made from love.”
Particularly, she believes that we shouldn’t look elsewhere for love, but always source it from within. She ends that it is critical to first love ourselves completely before we can love another.
Chief finance officer and coowner of Petalier, Lauren Silverio is a go-getter. When it comes to running a business, she knows what she wants and works for it. But when it comes to love, she delineates the opposite. “Love will not always let you get what you want. Most of the time, love will force you to compromise and think what’s best for the other person. While it will be a challenge at first, all your sacrifices will pay off eventually.” As a wife and mother, love has taught her to sacrifice her time and be patient. It enabled her to grow as a person, as she learned to put and think of others first.
Before having Baby Jake, I cringed at the thought of motherhood. I had equated it to losing my freedom to choose, which is like losing my life. Almost one year in, I’ve experienced how motherhood has helped me love more. I could no longer afford to dwell on negativity or self pity. I learned to move forward to work toward a brighter future for Baby Jake. While I used to live for myself before, I now contemplate on how my actions would reflect on Baby Jake’s future opinion of me as his mom. This Valentine’s month, I’m grateful for the blessing of loving my son, with the presence of my husband who I love just as much.
Love can mean many things to everyone. But as parents, I guess we can all agree that love really requires sacrifice and giving up much of ourselves. What doesn’t often get shared, though, is how we are able to gain so much more. And that’s the beautiful thing about love in parenthood.