I am a very sentimental person, and expressing love is very important to me. I distinctly remember my father talking about how he and his parents never really expressed how much they loved one another. He wanted that to be different with me. My father, to this day, will tell me he loves me several times within each visit. I can sense that my father, (not having experienced the sappy aspect of telling people how he feels), lessens the mawkish sensation by surrounding his “I love you” with other ridicule. Generally, he’d come up to me, wrap his arm around my shoulder and pull me close in a psuedo-hug, kiss my forehead, and profess, “I love you, brat. Now go get me some chocolate chip cookies.” Albeit, not as mushy as I am with my emotions, the point comes across loud and clear. I know that he loves me. I have always felt his love. Benjamin seems to particularly look forward to his Grandpa Wayne’s comments. “I love you, too, Grandpa Wayne… But I am not a hotdog, silly!”
The same goes for my mother. I’m really blessed that my mother is able to express her happy emotions really freely. I can recall several styles or phrases that my mother uses to say that she loves me. I know sometimes she simply tells me just that. Other times, she smiles and says something witty and silly just as my father does. Mostly, though, I think my mother is very good at demonstrating how she loves people. She has a knack for showing an interest in things that I love and sharing them with me. She has my back when she perceives that I feel threatened. She has a hobby of buying special “no-reason other than I love you” gifts, which I have inherited. She will cuddle if you’ll let her close enough, she’ll make you laugh if you’ll listen to her jokes, and she’ll cry with you if you need a shoulder.
It seems if you forget to take the time to acknowledge how people show their love, you might not notice. Even though my father and I had specifically talked about how he tries to express his feelings, at that time in my life, I couldn’t understand why we’d even have such a conversation. Of course he loved me. I knew that. Why wouldn’t he? It wasn’t until Jake was telling me that Grandma Linda was his favorite person in the whole world, and I asked him to explain why, that I understood why this was important. It struck me very profoundly to hear Jake explain that Grandma Linda loves him more than anyone body else. I reassured him that everyone in his life loved him, but she was exceptionally good at showing it. And it was really interesting to me, because I absolutely remember feeling the same way he described feeling when I was his age. My mother is just truly good at letting you know that you matter very much to her. I am still very happy to see that Jake perceives this message and feels as comforted in it as I always have.
So, becoming the combination of my parents techniques for showing love, I have become one of the world’s sappiest people. I say “I love you” so often it nearly becomes cliche, though I mean it whole heartedly each time it leaves my lips. You might say I’ve been bitten by the “hug bug”. (Direct result of my Grandma Rachel.) Sometimes I find myself weaving how much I love my children into songs… (another technique learned from my mother…)
And I often consider the various ways my children show their love. This is a fun process that seems to be evolving as they grow. From birth, Jake has always showed his love by favoring me. (Both boys do this. I think it’s a Mommy/son type thing, actually.) Both of my boys have always enjoyed cuddling. They will fight for a spot on my lap, but if they can’t get on my lap, they are content if their foot is so much as touching my foot. (Ben is still very much in this stage.) I remember a point when Jake was very little, when he started rubbing my back as I nursed him. It was sweet, and it was the same soothing type motion I would use to calm him while he was upset and being colicky. Eventually, both boys learned to give some sort of sloppy baby kisses and hugs. Those sloppy kisses at some point turned into loud “Smackers”. (The type of kiss that is so loud that you feel it all through your cheek and hear it through your house.) As they learned to talk, they both randomly would blurt out, “I love you, Mama” when there was an awkward silence.
Jake, being Jake, invented the “I love you more” game. It goes something like this:
Me: “Good night, Jake. I love you.”
Jake: “I love you MORE“
Me: “I don’t think so. Good night, dear.”
Jake: “I love you more than I love video games.”
Me: “I love you more than all the stars in the sky.”
Jake: “Wow, Mom, that’s a lot! I love you more than Ben loves Trains!”
Me: “That’s quite a lot also, but I love you more than all the grains of sand at the beach!”
His game play gets more and more sophisticated as he gets older. He is now combining things to make MORE love…
Jake: “I love you more than Daddy loves disc golf plus more than you love derby!”
Or he resorts to cheating, so that he cannot be one upped while Ben is does his very best to keep up…
Jake: “I love you infinity. Plus one.”
Me: “Well, boys, I love you more than all the hairs on my head and the blades of grass in our lawn.”
Ben: “I love you 20 pounds, Mama!”
Though I realize that this game is usually a mere tactic to avoid “lights out” time, I do so appreciate being showered in adoration. I am very proud that my kids know that they are loved, and know how to show that they love one another. Whether it be a kiss, a game, a hug or a simple “I love you”, it’s good to know the lesson is being learned.
But boys... I love you more!
Sometimes just bumping heads is enough to show you love one another…