I was halfway through my maternity leave when a mom I met at a playground invited me to a public drop-in centre. Until that point I’d been immersed in all things new baby, and developing a social life for us (outside of my pre-motherhood one) hadn’t been a priority.
So there I was: greasy ponytail, pablum-covered yoga pants, bags under my eyes the size of Louis Vuitton travel trunks… when something was said that woke me out of my vegetative state. The gentle nurse who was leading the class kindly informed the dishevelled, sleep-deprived group that parenting in the first year was like putting money in the bank.
“At first, you’ll feel like all you’re doing is giving, giving, giving, without getting anything back,” she consoled, “But then you’ll start to see a return on your investment. A smile, a tiny hand in yours, the first ‘I love you.'”
From that moment on, every “Dadadadada,” “Muhmuhmuhmuhma” and even “Waawaawaawaawaa,” was a delight. Each sound brought me a step closer to the ultimate goal: hearing those three magic words.
Hearing your child say “I love you” is like cashing a dividend check. It’s the icing on the world’s most amazing cake and a million other clichés you no longer mind using since you brought a mini-you into the world. It proves you did your job. You taught someone how to feel and share love — how great is that?
OK, OK, I’ll admit, it takes a bit of training, possibly even bribery at first. I’m not endorsing this, but getting from “Luvooo” to “I LOVE you Mama!” takes work. A little “You can have more Cheerios if you tell me you love me” here and there doesn’t hurt, does it?
All kidding aside, you know that pay day has arrived when a few years down the road, you get an uninstructed, organic “I love you” out of nowhere. It might be a little, raspy half-asleep whisper in the dark after tuck-ins, or just as a hand slips inside yours on a walk to the park… whatever, whenever it happens, it’s absolute magic.
Do you have a favourite “I love you” moment? Are there other Best Parenting Moments you’d like us to write about? Let us know!