Today, Annika spontaneously told Toyin and me that she loved us. It came completely out of the blue, but a tiny part of me wonders if maybe these first couple of weeks into the month of love had something to do with it.
Toyin dropped by after work today to visit Annika. We were playing around. He was being a kitty cat, per Annika’s request. And she leaned into him, sighing, and breathily said, “I love you kitty cat.”
Then a few minutes later, she leaned on me and shyly said, “I love you” and gave me a hug.
We both said it back to her. We didn’t acknowledge it to each other. But Toyin was grinning ear to ear when she said it, and I think I was too. Our playing continued on into being monsters and horsies, then it was time for bed, so we didn’t get a chance to discuss it. But I’m marking this day down as a big moment in our little family history.
Just like my theory that love comes in small doses, over a gradual period of time, her, I love you, was perfectly inserted during a time when we were all just sort of hanging out, being a family.
After she fell asleep and I lay next to her, thinking about my daughter saying the words “I love you” without any prompt or feeling of obligation, I felt extremely satisfied in the way it had happened.
The idea that it may have been due to some of my daily changes in the past couple of weeks comes because I have been trying to insert little I love yous often into random acts, not making it a big thing. I’ve also gone out of my way to say it after she’s had a meltdown, or we have had words, when she’s feeling vulnerable.
There are varying theories to saying the words I love you. Some say that you should never need to say I love you; but that it should be something that you only feel. This theory posits that if you feel it, you never need to say it.
On the opposite side of the coin, some theorize that it should be a daily affirmation, a regular phrase you hear, just like you always give your mate a light smack on the lips before leaving them, or a nightly kiss before bed.
I like the daily affirmation of love, whether it be a kiss or a hug, or verbalized into words.
When I was married, my husband and I always always kissed lightly on the lips when leaving each other. We continued doing it after we split up, and even after our divorce. (Yes, I do tend to have amicable breakups. I don’t know why.) After we split, we would hang out on occasion, go to dinner, see a movie. The divorce papers were not what finalized the end of our relationship. It was the end of our light kisses that I knew for sure that our relationship was truly over.
The point is, every relationship shows love in different ways. And every person expresses it and receives it in different ways.
Kim suggests finding out your child’s love language by reading the book The Five Love Languages of Children. This book has been recommended to me before. I think after having heard of it so many times, I will have to read it.
I am intrigued by your idea, so I thought I’d pass along what I have learned. My husband and I read the Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman a few years ago and it changed the way we relate to one another (and even with other relationships – like my sister, mother-in-law, etc.) and thankfully we also discovered the book Five Love Languages – Kids’ edition. It is intended for older children (8 and up), but at the time, our son was 5 and we were easily able to ascertain his “love language.” The 5 love languages are:Physical Touch (NOT limited to sexual touch)GiftsWords of appreciation / affectionActs of ServiceQuality TimeEveryone in our family is different and these books made it SO MUCH easier to relate to one another according to our “love language,” or the way in which we feel loved. I highly recommend it. The “for men” and “for women” books are virtually the same as the original, but the one for kids gives you kid-friendly ideas to show your child love (especially if their love language isn’t the same as yours). — Kim Lanicek
Even though I haven’t read the book yet, I’m guessing that every person doesn’t have just one love language. As much as I love books that give advice, I am also at a point in my motherhood where I am feeling the instincts kicking in. I can tell when Annika is feeling happy and loved. One thing I am trying to do lately is notice when she is feeling that way, and then observe my own behavior, so that I can continue to replicate it later when she is not feeling so happy.
It’s definitely not easy, this love thing. But I think it’s one of things that is worth the effort during the moments when things are right and good. And even when things aren’t right and good.
Here’s the original guidelines:
I’m going to take submissions on what you do to show your child or children that you love them. Anyone can submit a short post anywhere from 200-700 words. They can be from anyone, you don’t have to be a blogger. Or you can be a blogger and I’ll link to your site or anything else you want me to link to.
So, here’s the deal. Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief essay on an action or actions that you do to show your kids that you love them. Write a short, one or two sentence bio, and if you want, send along a picture. If you have a website or blog, make sure you send me the URL. I’ll post as many as I can throughout the month of February. If you don’t have kids and you want to send something about your own childhood, that’s cool too.