When your kids say they love you

Anchel Krishna shares how a simple phrase from her daughter turned into one of those oh-so-sweet parenting moments.

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Right before her nap, Syona spontaneously tells Anchel she loves her. Photo: Anchel Krishna

Follow along as Anchel Krishna shares her experiences as mother to Syona, an extraordinary toddler with cerebral palsy.

When it comes to parenting Syona there is very little we take for granted. She had a tough start, some medical scares and a lot of physical and communication challenges. She’s also made some amazing progress in her speech, communication and, recently, motor skills (thanks to her Botox treatment).

Last Friday afternoon, I picked Syona up from nursery school. Her teacher and I chatted about some of the great progress Syona’s made in terms of communicating her needs, playing with other kids and on her own — and all of these were major goals for us as Syona entered the program.

She was pretty tired, and as we were driving home I asked her whether she’d like to have lunch first (our typical routine) then a nap, or if she preferred to drink milk, take a nap and have lunch later. She chose the nap first and when we got home we went straight into her sleep routine, which ends with me lying down with her in bed and cuddling.

As we were snuggling together and her eyes were starting to droop, I pulled my head back a bit just to look at her face. It was one of those moments where you feel that indescribable, overwhelming feeling of love for your kiddo, for no reason other than the fact that they exist. When she realized I was looking at her, her eyes flew open. She looked at me, pulled her binky out of her mouth and said “I love you.”

Syona’s said “I love you” before and we exchange these words frequently in our home, so that was nothing new. But what was new this time around was that she said it so spontaneously, at a moment that I was feeling and thinking the exact same thing (but wouldn’t dare say it in fear of waking her out of that close-to-sleep daze that is often fleeting when you have a three-year-old).

Putting Syona to sleep is an interesting challenge and there are times I find myself distracted or impatient as I think of all the things I have to do after she finally nods off. But the truth is that those quiet moments just before sleep are some of my favourites. This quick little exchange reminded me exactly why: for a minute the world is quiet, dark and still and Syona and I get a chance to just be together with no expectations, goals or things to do.

When you have a child with special needs, a lot of these moments are extra special because it reminds you of how far your child has come, how hard they’ve worked and just how special they are. And often these exchanges of love take different forms: communicating via a sign, touch, gesture or even a simple look. Each of these is equally meaningful.

So I responded the way any mom would have: gave her a kiss, told her I loved her too and went downstairs to do the dishes while she slept.

How do your kids show you they love you? Have you ever had a moment that caught you by surprise and reminded you of how special parenting is?

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