“Why do I love you?” A simple enough question, I asked it the first time on a whim, not expecting her replies.
My four year old looked up at me with her tiny, fluffy eyebrows furrowed as she pondered the question.
“I don’t know” She finally replied with a question mark in her tone.
“Think about it…why do you think I love you?” I asked, this time gently insisting she give me her best guess.
She went through several tries, but never found the right answer:
“Because I’m beautiful?”
“Because I’m good?”
She tried so hard to come up with a reason, certain attributes she knows about herself that might make her worthy of my love.
Finally I told her the answer.
“I love you. Because you are you.”
She stared up into my eyes for a moment seeming to question if it was really that simple, and then the biggest grin broke out across her face. She’s not able to grasp the complexities of a never-relenting kind of love, but she can tell it’s important. Somehow her mind knows there’s a safety in this knowledge she’s loved simply for existing and being herself.
I never realized what a powerful question this could be, but it’s become a daily ritual for it now. Sometimes, she’ll even climb into my lap and with the tiniest grin say “mama I forgot why you love me again!” waiting anxiously for me to say the words she knows I will “I love you because you’re you. And I always will.”
Sometimes she turns it into a guessing game, telling me the wrong answers on purpose just so she can laugh and enjoy the knowledge of how thoroughly she’s loved.
“mama, you love me because I have teeth???”
“No baby, all your teeth could fall out, and I would still love you because…”
She usually cuts me off here:
“No mama I have another guess! You love me because I can sing!”
“I love it when you sing, but I love YOU because…”
She covers my mouth squealing with glee as she makes more and more guesses each one sillier than the last.
We always end with the same words though. “I love you because you’re you, and I always will.”
Simple words, but ones I want her to know by heart and every moment of every day.
The day I started asking this question, my oldest was at school. When he got home from Kindergarten, I decided to ask him the same question, to see what his guess would be.
“Why do I love you, buddy”
His response was perfect.
“Of course you love me because I’m you’re kid.”
I love that at six years old he already grasps it without being told. But I’ve started reminding him every day too. “Buddy, I love you because you’re you. And I always will.”
“Of course you will mama, I’m your kid.” He’ll respond with a smirk. And I rest a little easier knowing they feel cradled in my love no matter where the roam or what they do.
Sometimes the simplest of words can spark the most important conversations.
Have you had any good conversations with your kids lately? Share with me in the comments.
This all brings to mind the time my friend without kids changed my parenting forever. . . If you haven’t read it, you can see the simple phrase he said a year ago that rocked my world!