It finally happened. And it was worth the wait. My three year old took my face in both of his hands, looked into my eyes and said, "I love you too." Without being asked. No prompting. On his own. In his own time. I've been wanting to hear "I love you" for so long, but up until now Christian only said it when we asked him to. I never doubted he felt it, but oh how I wanted to hear it..
Sometimes you just need to hear, I love you. I often wonder if I say it enough. I say it to Christian and Elijah over and over everyday. I'm not stingy with the I love you to even some of my closest girlfriends. But do I say it to Charles enough? Does he know that I love him for ALL that he is? Exactly as he is? Sometimes I think I've failed to say it enough. We're coming off of a bit of a spat. A huge theme within it is that Charles isn't feeling loved and supported. That really, really bums me out because there seems to be a huge disconnect from what I'm feeling to what he's hearing from me. I'm not yet sure how to find the balance of avoiding feeling like an insincere cheerleader and making the most of the moments where he will actually hear the love and support I have for him. It seems I have often gotten this wrong. Perhaps this is a common relationship snafu?
Feeling appreciated. I know this a topic broached time and again within Mommy circles of never feeling fully appreciated for all that they do. After my spat with Charles, I'm betting that if there were such a thing as Daddy circles (like the unicorn, they may exist, I've just never actually seen one), they might be complaining of not feeling appreciated too. So, inspired by my adorable 3 year old and the meaningful way in which he finally said, I love you, here are my top 5 reasons that Charles is my #1 guy:
5. He works so hard to make life for our family work. It is forefront in his mind. He has many, many gifts and while work has not been as fruitful and fulfilling for him recently, I believe that once other employers/projects/opportunities see how much of an asset he would be....he will FLY.
4. He is a GOOD Father. He is present (both physically and emotionally), loving but firm, attentive, fun and his boys look up to him already. As well they should.
3. He is a communicator. While he and I may still go round and round and feel that our communication skills are severely lacking...he is a willing communicator. He doesn't clam up and say, "Whatever." He works through it and tries to help get us to a place of peace (even if it is occasionally to agree to disagree.)
2. He values me and lets me know it. He'll remark that he thinks I look pretty or that I've been doing great with the boys or inspiring my students. I hope to find more ways to do the same for him.
1. He is a lovable guy! He is a smart, witty, fun, complex, unique, GOOD man.
So, Babe...if you're reading this, I LOVE YOU. Just as you are. I won't be perfect at showing it all of the time, but I will be feeling it. If you aren't reading this... even better, because you know what? I should shout it from the rooftops anyway.
Life is complicated. Life, sometimes tries to weigh us down with work obligations, over-scheduling, overdue bills, and physical exhaustion. And when we let it, it can consume us, terrify us and leave us short-tempered and unkind. I am not perfect and I am not immune to these things, but I am a perseverer. (Yes, I'm well aware that I am turning a word that is normally a verb into a noun, but it is pretty appropriate.) I am a Perseverer. I think this definition is a trait that I can claim(and take the liberty of turning it into a noun.):
1. to persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.
2. to persist in speech, interrogation, argument, etc.; insist. (Yup. While this may not be Charles' favorite quality of mine...it is true.)
3. to bolster, sustain, or uphold
I had some pretty powerful role models in the department of love and relationships. My Grandfather and Grandmother (my Dad's parents) were married over 60 years. My Grandmother told me that every. single. day. my Grandfather told her that he loved her so much and that she was his world. *Miss you, Paw Paw* My own parents, who I got to live with and see more closely than my Grandparents, have a great balance. It is truly NOT all roses and butterflies, but you persevere. You make that commitment and along the way you love each other, in the best way you can. I saw my parents argue (still do), but I also see them grab hands and enjoy the journey together. That is what I hope for my children. That they can see that Charles and I are far from perfect, but we love each other and we love them. We are a team. A family.
So... to my family: both immediate and extended, I say, I love you. And whenever you want to say it back, it will be sweet. Because whether you say it or not, your actions shout, I LOVE YOU, TOO.