I Said It First!

“I love you, Mama,” my 8-year old looked up at me.

We were side-by-side on the couch, staying up a little late while summer is coming to a close, for our “special show” time. He’s my partner in crime when it comes to flea market scouting. He has an eagle eye. And we like to critique the creations made on HGTV’s Flea Market Flip.

  • [Me: I love you, too.] I smiled at him.
  • [Him: I said it first!] He looked quite proud.
  • [Me: What do you mean?]
  • [Him: Usually you’re the one who says it first, and then I say, ‘I love you, too.’ But this time, I said it first!]
  • [Me: You’re right. That’s nice that you did that.]
  • [Him: Dad always says it first, too.]
  • [Me: Well, maybe you can beat him next time.]
  • [Him: Yeah!] I could see him planning it already.

23 - give love first

Sometimes I wonder if they truly know how much I love them.

If they remember even at the times my love is not apparent. Like in the middle of my discipline and disappointment with their behavior.

After I yell at them for dangerous stunts near the stone fireplace.

When I’m frustrated at them for ignoring my request…the third time.

When I step on a Lego with my bare foot and I start in on picking up after themselves. You know how much those hurt! Forget walking across a bed of hot coals. Did anyone try walking across a bed of pointy-cornered Lego blocks?

I wonder if they know even then.

What they don’t realize is that the times of discipline are still full of love. Well, maybe not my ranting about the Lego. 🙂

Such a conversation occurred this weekend in the car, after some misbehavior and my older son’s tears at his consequence. Then we heard, “You don’t love me.”

“Woa!” my husband stopped him. “Don’t ever question our love for you. Love doesn’t always mean kisses and hugs and sweet talk. Sometimes love is tough. It’s because we love you that we need to correct your behavior, so that you grow up to be the incredible person we know you are. That’s love, too. Even if it doesn’t seem like it. And there’s nothing you can do that changes how much we love you.”

I think he got it. Or he was just giving us the silent treatment.

Regardless, the couch discussion with my son confirmed much for me. He knows how much I love him. He has recognized that we say it often. Often enough, that we always say it before he does. And that has left a lasting impression. It’s encouraging. It means I’m doing something right, people. 🙂


     Above all, keep loving one another earnestly,
since love covers a multitude of sins. 
                                       1 Peter 4:8


He said it again a couple days later, and again tonight. So proud that he offered it freely, before I said it. I could see his big grin in the faint wash of moonlight from his window.

Now, I’m hearing it come independently from both kids. Even my toddler, all on his own, without prompting. It’s a sweet deal!

It confirms something else for me.

You can never give too much love or give your love too often.

So be free with your words of love. They belong in our children’s ears frequently, so that they find a permanent place in their hearts.

And let’s not forget the sweet reward we get when they say it to us!

Extra: If you’d like to use secret words for when a little extra love is needed, try our family’s secret code: Butterfly Heart.

Hands Free Mama

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Butterfly Heart

life in progress

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