I have been telling my kids I love them for longer than they have been alive. For the most part I feel like I am doing a better job at showing them I love them- with patience and kindness, which is my new motherhood mantra.
My kids have been able to communicate that they love me in their own special ways. Topher's a big hugger, which is so great. He is also a great lover of food, so if he shares even a morsel of what is on his plate- that's amore! Lily is a big flirt so she just looks over her shoulder, flutters her eyelashes, shines those giant dimples, and smiles.
We taught the babies to blow kisses at a young age, which we meant as a sign for 'bye' and 'i love you', but who cares? Those are things that we put on them. Just because they did it didn't mean that they were necessarily trying to say 'bye' or 'i love you'. They always got lots of extra kisses and 'oohs' and 'aahs' when people would get these adorable blown kisses, so maybe they were doing it for the acclaim. Who knows?
And with both of the babes talking, they have both been able to say 'I love you' after we say 'I love you', and repeat 'Sarang heh' which is 'I love you' in Korean. But again- does this mean anything to them? Should this mean anything to me?
Then recently Lily started saying something that made me feel like maybe she understood how I truly felt. Like the love that I have for her is something way deeper than the love I have for chocolate ice cream, which I often say that 'I love!' (I happen to have a great respect for chocolate ice cream, which comes out as 'love', but is in fact just a strong affinity.) She wasn't saying 'Mom, I love you like I love Pablo on the Backyardigans', she was saying 'Mom, I have watched you and studied you for the last two and a half years of my life and I can see that you truly love me and would do anything for me. I am moved by this love, and I LOVE YOU TOO.'
We have moved to the next level here people! The addition of that one simple word has so much meaning to it! Or at least I have now pinned on so much meaning to it! I know that there are things that we make the kids say, like 'thank you', that they don't always mean. Especially when we have to force them to say 'thank you' for something like an extra helping of rice. But when Lily was trick or treating this weekend, every piece of candy that hit her little bag was met with a heartfelt, sincere outburst of thanks.
We taught Lily and Topher how to say 'thank you' and 'I love you', but we can't necessarily teach them to mean it. But one thing I didn't teach Lily, which these days I am thankful for every time I hear it, is how to say 'I love you too', cause I think that just happened as a sincere outburst from her heart to mine.