My daughter said to me “Mom, you never tell us that you love us.” Does she know every day my heart hurts because I love them so much? The constant worry that as young adults off on their own, and hoping they make good life choices, that’s love. I say to her that words don’t mean much to me, that they are just words. I tell her that I prefer to show her that I love her. I spend time in her bedroom cleaning it, putting fresh sheets on her bed, or flowers in her room when she comes home for a visit. I do her laundry while she is with us, and make a point of cooking her favourite things to eat. I tag her in funny memes to make her laugh on days when she might be missing home, to let her know I’m thinking of her and miss her too. I tell her that there are so many other ways that I tell her I love her.
She doesn’t understand how hurt by her dad I have been and although he says he loves me, I don’t feel it, they are just words he says because he doesn’t know how to show me all the time. I don’t feel it because he had two other relationships with other women one that was just sex and the other I know he loved. He didn’t show me, love. He told me lies and continued to live his life without any regard for our marriage, me or our family. That is not loving. He tries a little harder to make me feel his love. He senses the anxiety days, even though I try to not let them show. He holds me tighter at night because he knows it helps to shut my brain down and stop the overthinking it tends to do in the quiet hours. He has tried harder in the last year because he knows I was slipping away from him and I wasn’t going to be there, or love him any longer. He feels my love, he wasn’t completely sure he wanted it to be something he had to live without so he’s decided to make changes in his life.
I love my kids with my whole being and have made them the centre of my life. I miss them when they are not with me, and feel happy when all of them are home. I ask my daughter ”Do you love your brothers?” She rolls her eyes and with that, I know the answer, that yes she does. I ask her ”Do you tell them? Do you say to them that you love them? Do they tell you that they love you?” She’s waiting for me to make my point. I tell her that without realizing it, the time they spend together when they are all home shows their affection for each other, it shows in the Facetime calls they make time for in their busy lives when they are apart, and the group texts between them. My heart swells, and tears cloud my vision because I did my job, I raised them to be caring people and that even long after I’m gone that they will still find time for each other.
At the airport, as she leaves me to go back to school, I hug her long and tight, I try to hide my tears because I’m going to miss her but she catches them, raises her finger to my cheek, brushes a tear away and says ”I love you, too”