Those three little words. Those three little words that are in fact, so big, that we yearn for them all of our lives. Or at least I do. The context may vary and we may take them for granted at times, but they never completely lose their luster. And here’s why: because hearing those words are a validation that we matter in this life to someone other than ourselves, and that is a powerful feeling to be gifted with.
I started thinking about this today because it occurred to me that I live in a near-make-believe land where the words “I love you” are nearly as abundant as the air I breathe. It started with my own childhood. My mom had a rule that you never said good night or good bye without an “I love you” no matter how upset you were with the other person because, she would argue, “I might get hit by a truck tomorrow.” So I said it then and I say it now. A lot. Even when I’m mad, sad, frustrated or all three. My husband and I say it so often to each other you might argue that it’s not as meaningful anymore. What I’ll tell you is that of course there are times when we say it out of habit, like when we’re hanging up the phone or going to bed at night or leaving for work. There are also times when one of us says it out of the blue when we are just sitting and talking (or not talking) with each other and certainly those times might seem more special. Then again, I am devastated when we are in a really huge fight and Sean hangs up without saying it. I literally feel sick to my stomach and will likely follow up with a text that says, “you might hate me right now, but I love you.” Because, you know what? He might just get hit by a truck. My best friend and I say it to each other every time we get off the phone. Why? Because we mean it!!! And why not say something that we feel?
Don’t even get me started on the love I spout for my wee ones:
“Kathryn, please go get dressed and brush your teeth. I love you.”
“Guys, I love you, please stop fighting in the backseat.”
“Thank you so much for helping me put the laundry away. I love you so much.”
“Kellan? (“What?”) I love you. (“I love you too, Mommy.”)
Kathryn being the love bug that she naturally is has taken to saying it almost as randomly as I do. There literally are no words to describe the fullness I feel when out of nowhere that girl tells me she loves me. No words. As far as I’m concerned, those two little people are going to hear me say I love them no less than ten times a day every day for the rest of their lives.
Here’s the point: Say the words. Say them with reckless abandon to the people you love – your friends, your parents, your siblings, your children, your spouses. Why wouldn’t you? I hear people who are clearly on the phone with their spouses and hang up without saying it and I feel so badly for them. Why aren’t they saying it??? Are they afraid to? Afraid of being too vulnerable? You’re sharing a life together – SAY I LOVE YOU!!! Say it all day, every day! Raise your children to say it all the time and feel comfortable and confident expressing their love so they can really, truly share themselves with the world. Teach them to say it even when they might not hear the words back. Lead by example. As the old saying goes, it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
To my readers, I love you.