A few years ago, my younger son started tossing out “I love you, Mommy” at least 20 times a day. I noticed that he did it even more when he was feeling stressed or felt like I had a frown-y face. He always would come in for a hug at the same time as saying it if I was disciplining them or critiquing something. My response was usually “I love you too kiddo.” Sometimes that phrase was followed by “But you still need to remember…” and he would nuzzle his face into my tummy and say, “Yes, Mommy, yes, Mommy. But I LOVE YOU!” It got to be something he just said all the time. After awhile even his older brother would say it too, mostly when he was in trouble for something.
Then I started noticing that they were using this tactic when they felt like *I* was stressed about something. “I love you, Mommy, don’t be stressed.” Then I started noticing that they would do this when I’m just sitting there, for no reason, other than my face wasn’t smiling. “I love you, Mommy. Hey, Mommy, SMILE!”
So the other day, I finally asked my younger son, “So… just out of curiosity, why exactly do you say ‘I love you, Mommy’ all the time? Like all the time. I’m not complaining, I mean, I like it, but I’m just wondering, are you saying this to remind me that you love me? Or are you trying to get me to do something? Or are you just telling me because you feel an overwhelming feeling of love for me at that moment?”
The response was this: “Mommy. I say it to make myself feel better. I know that if I say it, you will say that you love me too, which makes me feel good. I feel loved. I get less stressed. So I say it, and wait for you to say that you love me too, which you always do, except when you’re really, really angry, in which case I have to say it a few times and hug you too to get you to say it back. But now, I can even feel good even if you aren’t saying it back, because I know you would always say it back. So sometimes now I just say it, and pretend that I can hear you say it back in my head. And then I just feel better. You make me feel better. When I know that you love me, I feel better.
What a kid. What a reminder.