This afternoon I was folding laundry in my bedroom. Wade was playing on the floor near me. I looked at him and said, “I love you.”
To my surprise he replied, “I wuv oou.”
It’s always a sweet moment the first time your child says they love you. You spend the first year or two tirelessly caring for them, loving them unconditionally, and showering them with affection without it returned.
Yes, they smile at you when you walk in the room. They put their arms out when they want to be held. They snuggle their downy head on your shoulder when they’re tired. These actions are all important parts of creating a bond between you and your baby. As parents we want to believe that they’re acts of affection, but when they’re so small they’re really just instinctual acts of self-preservation.
Then the day comes that this little person’s mind is developed enough to recognize emotion, and they choose to love you back!
Oh, you didn’t endure so many sleepless nights, or change so many diapers, or play so many game of peek-a-boo because you were trying to buy their affection. But hearing those three little words spoken in their tiny baby voice certainly is an invaluable reward for you efforts.
On this same day that 20 month old Wade said, “I love you,” to me for the first time, six year old David untangled himself a little more from my apron strings.
David and I were talking in the kitchen. We finished our conversation, and I tried to give David a hug. He pushed me away, “Mom! I don’t want a hug now.”
If was the first time David ever refused the offer of a hug from me.
I knew this would happen. I knew the day was getting close. I didn’t take it personally. I wasn’t hurt by it. It’s natural for David at this age to start to pull away from me and exercise his independence.
I was struck by how my boys are at such different stages. For Wade Mommie is still his whole world. David on the other hand is just starting to realize that there is a whole world beyond Mommie.
I remember the day David first said, “I love you.” He was sitting on his changing table. He was a month or two older than Wade is now. I scooped him up in my arms, kissed his face and hugged him tight without resistance.
I couldn’t scoop up 60 lb David now if I wanted. The hugs and kisses will be less frequent. However, he did still say to me today, “Mommy, I love you.”
And that meant even more today than it did the first time.