Lately you have been very concerned with my reactions to you and my emotions. When we are in conflict, most often because you are not listening, you will ask if I'm happy immediately once the issue is resolved. For example, we will be heading out to school or an appointment and I'll be trying to get you on the bicycle. You'll run around the sidewalk, happy to be outside for the first time all day.
Me: "Ok, time to get on the bikey!"
You: no answer, zooming around
Me: "I'm going to count to 5 and then I'm going to pick you up to put you on the bike"
You: no answer, zooming around
Me: "1, 2, 3, 4"
You: "DON'T COUNT!"
Me: "Okay, then please come to the bike!"
You: no answer zooming around
I pick you up, plop you on the bike while you protest and I get frustrated, then as soon as you're buckled in you ask sweetly,"Mama are you happy?"
This happens with every defiance. I answer pretty honestly, usually I'm not flustered as this is status quo these days. But sometimes I am very frustrated or even angry, you have occasionally gotten too close to the curb for my liking when walking on the sidewalk and that freaks me out. You have also had epic tantrums about not getting to go to someone's house or a play space, even when we didn't have plans to go which is maddening to me. And when you ask if I'm happy, I'll say "No, I'm disappointed in your behavior!" Breathe. "I love you, but I'm not happy all the time." Breathe. "I love you!" To which you asked "Why do you love me?
I mean, the honest answer is hormones. Right? I love you because my body has conditioned me to love you. Pregnancy and breastfeeding are all ruled by hormones, I kept you alive in those first moments because my body didn't really have a choice. And by the time the hormones normalized. we were bonded and I was in love and that was that.
I told you I loved you because you were so much fun to be with, and you made me laugh and smile and also because you are my child and that it my job. You were totally satisfied with that awkward off the cuff reply and spent the rest of the day saying "Am I making you laugh?" "I"m making you smile, Mama, see!"
But it got me thinking about why I really do love you, besides hormones. A lot of it is wrapped up in me, which was surprising to think about, but I'm tying to be honest. I love you because I feel that you have rooted me into this world. You have shined light on dark places, both the ugliness that I pushed away and hidden pockets of life I never knew existed. You force me to examine things I didn't want to look at ever again, stuffed away forgotten hurts that I now dissect daily. You have added so much love to my life, the number of people who know and love you shatters my heart. And the love you have for the world is so awesome and big it softens my cynicism. You riding the subway restores my faith in humanity. As a baby you would always give and receive smiles and now as you sit reading aloud, you connect with more people in a commute than many adults do in their whole day. I also love you wholly for you. Your creativity, your tenacity, your stubborn commitment to whatever you've pinned your heart on that moment. I love that you sing off key with creative lyrics at the top of your lungs when we're biking to school. I love that we both yell "BIG AGUA!" every time we see a canal, river, lake, ocean or really big puddle. It's ridiculous and fun and silly and normal to you. I love that you bargain for everything. I love that you are a snuggly kid, that you love to cuddle and hug (though only certain people, which I also love) and when we read books you insist on us both being under the same blanket. I love that you're sensitive and know when someone else is sad. I love that you tell us if you're sad or angry or frustrated. You had words early and have always used them. One of my earliest hearbreaks was you being not yet two at a party and a bigger girl ripping a toy stroller from your hands and you standing there crying and signing "please" to ask her to give it back (you recovered immediately once another stroller was produced, but I am haunted by that image). Now you say "that hurt my feelings Mama!" which is so wonderful and lovely and annoying, because usually it's in response to something like "we need to sit on the potty before we leave the house" and you don't want to. I love that you are up for adventure, that you are my travel buddy, that you know your limits ("I don't like dogs, I don't want to walk on the sidewalk next to that dog, PICK ME UP!") and that you are willing to try new things. I love that you tell jokes, that you want to make people laugh, that you worry about me being happy. I love that you asked why I love you.
But really, does it matter why? Just know that I do, oh, SO much.