My Story: “What does LOVE feel like Mommy?”

My Story: “What does LOVE feel like Mommy?”

By Jessica Martin

Picture: My four year old angel, Kayci

Three days ago my daughter who just recently turned four asked me one of the most difficult questions anyone has ever asked me: “Mommy, what does love feel like?”  We were driving home and I was lost in thought and completely taken aback by this very profound question that came from my little girl.  I always try to answer her questions even when I do not truly know the answers.  However I cannot look in a book or browse the internet for the questions/answers regarding love.  I knew I had to answer and yet could only think of one word: safe.

It would be easier to answer such a huge yet simple question if Kayci was about ten years older than she is but she is not your average toddler in any way, shape or form.  I am not sure I even truly understood the deepest feeling of love until she was born. I did what all adults do when they do not know how to answer a question: answer a question with a question (do you not just hate that!?)  I asked her: “How do you know you love mommy?”  She answered much more quickly than I had anticipated: “That is silly mommy.  Of course I love you.  You take care of me, are funny, and I don’t know I just love you.” However, she kept pressing me for my answer of : “What does love feel like?”  I finally surrendered and babbled something that is beyond hard to explain: “Love is something that is hard to put into words.  Mommy cannot imagine life without you, that thought is very scary because I love you so much.  Love is a feeling that is hard to put into words.  I think love is feeling safe and important and knowing you are loved enough to love yourself.  I think you and Mommy love music so much because it puts into words what we cannot say.”  Needless to say this was a profound moment that has not left my mind the past few days.  And yes, a little deep for a little girl with the mind of a true healer.

Fast forward to the next day when I was the lucky one to get the stomach virus that is going around.  No matter what ailment one gets, everyone seems to say: “Oh that is going around.  My best friend’s, sister’s, cousin just had the same thing.”  I awoke around midnight two nights ago at the sound of my daughter’s voice calling me.  I stood up and realized I was dizzy beyond belief.  It was truly difficult to walk.  However, my daughter needed me (love) and love sometimes means doing things you do not want to do such as standing up in the middle of the night because your toddler begs you to.

As I walked down the hallway I became more and more dizzy until I fell, literally fell and hard.  I fell in front of our bathroom and then began vomiting everywhere.  I was scared.  I awoke the next morning with multiple bruises and was literally unable to get out of bed.  My dad who has always made me feel safe was at our home within the hour, playing with Kayci and making me toast.  I slept for the following twenty four hours: that is sick. I never sleep during the day.  I awoke yesterday and still felt pretty awful.  Our daughter has her first dance recital in less than a month and yesterday was the last day to buy tickets for the show.  She is only four and is beyond excited to dance for the people who love her.  She loves music and dance and I felt such guilt at the thought of not taking her to dance or worse not buying tickets to her recital.

Call it a mother’s strength, or call it love but somehow I managed to get her dressed in her hot pink tutu, feed her, and get her to dance class on time.  Her friend’s parents took one look at me and said: “What happened to you!  You should be in bed.  How did you  even drive here?”  Without thinking, I simply stated: “Love. I would do anything for my daughter.”  That is when I remembered the question: “What does love feel like?”

There are so many different kinds of love: there is someone’s first love, there is the love between two people who have been together for fifty years and as much as they get on one another nerves they cannot imagine a life without the other, there is the love between siblings, friends, and then the love a parent has for their child.  Love has different feelings and can be amazing and filled with joy and at times love can be scary and very difficult.  We all have different ways we see and view love.  I feel that love is feeling safe with another person.  Chronic pain taught me who truly loved me and who did not.  The one person I felt truly safe and loved by was my dad who always believed me and never gave up on me.  If you love someone you just know it, there is not a way to explain the feeling of true love.  As scary and difficult as love can be, it is the most magical feeling in the world.  If you love someone who has chronic pain they do not need you to fix them or even find the right cure or medication.  They need your love.  It really is that simple.

The person with chronic pain or any invisible illness needs to know they are loved and safe.  I will repeat the three most important words one can say to someone who has chronic pain: “I BELIEVE YOU.”

Editor’s Note: Jessica Martin is a 34-year old stay at home mom with a four year old daughter and lives in New Jersey. She was severely injured in a bicycle accident 20 years ago when she was only 14 and has battled chronic pain since. She blogs on chronic pain and you can read more of her work at She will continue to contribute to the National Pain Report.

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Authored by: Jessica Martin

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Jessica (fellow Jersey girl!),
Your words are Beautifully written! Thank you for putting LOVE into perspective.
I can very much relate to losing friends and family due to my life in chronic pain.
Your writing confirmed what I already know as my ‘sad’ reality from which I have been on a new journey to heal from.
My own daughter has turned from me. My only child. She was once my biggest and most present supporter. Some time after the auto accident that changed my life and several spine surgeries…
she once told me that she couldn’t deal with the fact that I was no longer ‘Super mom’. She now lives across the country from me.
It broke my ‘mommy heart’ for sure!
About 2 yrs ago I said to one of my sisters ‘I want to have a family gathering so that I
can finally explain to you all what my life in pain is about’. (I have 7 siblings).
Her reply was ‘Why? No one is going to listen to you’.
It again broke my heart to hear that. But she was right and so I never called them together.
And so I now keep my distance to protect my emotional self.
If only the doctors truly knew/cared about how we have to live…perhaps they would stop the madness that is going on and help us rather than make it worse for us with all that is now going on with the CDC etc etc.
Your daughter is very blessed to have you as her mom. You are very special.
Keep strong. Live, love and laugh, Maureen


Beautiful story! I am Blessed to be a mother of two wonderful adult children with 3 grandchildren, and 2 step-grandchildren. Always looked forward to being the “fun” Grammy, but, due to CRPS, I’m not able to be that much fun, too limited in my physical ability, but I keep an attitude of gratitude and try to find things that we can share together. I believe that we can attack each day with our own attitude, I CHOOSE to be joyful. I have friends and family that no longer invite me and my husband to different functions; I’m not as much fun and active, but we are only given one life, one moment in time to either do the best we can, or have a pity party, I CHOOSE to enjoy what I CAN do, and not focus on the negative. Keep going that extra mile, you will be rewarded beyond belief! Keep pushing ahead and smile as long as possible.

Wow, how wonderful & touching. I wish more people would read this. I’m going to link to this on my blog as well.

Mark Ibsen MD

Love is a verb, ultimately.
It’s what we do,
Out of our commitment.

“Love is accepting someone how they are
How they are not”
Werner Erhard.

Thank you, Jessica, for your beautiful story!

It is interesting how others respond to our chronic illnesses. I found that some of the people that I thought I could count on were supportive, until I showed no signs of improvement. As the weeks turned months then into years of fibromyalgia most of my friends and loved ones became scarce. Granted I wasn’t the same fun person. My activities changed drastically as “good days” diminished, and I found it increasingly difficult to grin and bare the pain. Who could blame them. Their lives continued on as before but mine was inexorably altered. No longer able to concentrate to teach, I lost touch with colleagues. Then even sitting through a movie or applauding a performance was painful, as was even putting one foot in front of the other.

I was fortunate to have a doctor who was supportive, who kept trying to help with new medications, treatments and referrals. He never suggested the pain was, “all in my head, a woman thing,” as others before him. He never made me feel like a malingerer. He gave me the courage to go on searching for help, trying anything and everything I could find to help myself.

At last I did find Joy of Healing, the beautiful wellness work that helped me to identify and
resolve the numerous issues in my life that I tried so desperately to ignore, but which kept surfacing and making me so very ill. At last I was, and still am, in remission. I have my life back thanks to my dearest friends, the Overlees, founders of Joy of Healing.

We all have many acquaintances in our lives but we are indeed blessed if we have even a few true friends who love us unconditionally.