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What does it really mean to be nurturing. As someone who grew up without a stable home life I'm not sure I can adequately explain what nurturing is, much less reproduce it for others.

The examples I feel I have of nurturing are two grandmothers always concerned about whether you'd eaten or giving an inventory of what food is in the kitchen to snack on. Or a well-meaning aunt filling the void of a lost father with regular trips to the toy store. Or maybe uncles who spoke too freely about relationships, sex, and alcohol as a way to make one feel included in manhood because of that same lack of a father as a guidepost.

There were certainly hugs growing up and I love you's and such... but when ever I think about the word "nurtured" it feels like there's this void there... something I missed between the hugs and the I love you's as I left one house for another.

When I think about it all the words show up: interest, attention, love, care, gifts, encouragement, hugs, kisses, affection... but either I'm missing a word or the mix of those things was off somehow. The reality is that I've missed something that I worry about never being able to gain; the ability to really nurture another person.

I can go through the motion of encouraging and loving and gifting and providing the platitudes that all should make up the act of nourishing... but somehow I repeatedly fall short of the actual act. I miss some tidbit of attention or memory or kindness or tone that makes the whole activity seem forced, and thus fail at it.

When all the people around me need nurturing and encouragement and I suck at it... it's pretty frustrating for us all.

But I keep trying. Day by day. I keep trying to take my love's lead and say the words that she uses to encourage me and reflect those back out in the world to those I love. But I'd be lying if I didn't say that it's a struggle. I'd be lying if I said it felt comfortable. It feels weird and I'm not practiced at it and I worry every time I do it that I'm missing some subtle clue that would lead me to be better. But until that clue smacks me in the face, I'll just keep trying like I am. I'll get there, eventually.