“Do I say it too much?” I ask my younger daughter Chloe.
“No, Mommy, I like it,” she replies with a grin, wrapping her little arms around my waist.
Since the day they were born, I couldn’t stop telling my daughters how much I loved them, from infancy to adolescence. It was as if the words just bubbled out of me when I was around them. Unlike the way adults handle these words with one another, often tentatively, with the hope that the other person will return the sentiment, parents love unconditionally, which means we say it without expecting something in return. This kind of love is freeing. It's one of the purest loves you can have in your heart.
“I love you,” I say each time I hang up the phone when I am at work and checking in on my daughters’ days at school.
“Love you too, Mom,” they always say. I can’t help but hang up with a smile on my face.
To this day, I always tell my father I love him before I hang up the phone. I did the same thing with my mother before she passed away a few months ago. Often she would call me just to tell me she loved me or send me a card with those three simple words written inside.
My experience of losing a parent has made me keenly aware that we may not get another chance to tell someone we love them - that’s why it is so important to say it as much as we can.
Chloe coined the phrase “I love you to God and back” at the end of her bedtime prayer when she was in first grade. She told me that because God lived in heaven, and heaven was really far away, that the biggest love she could imagine was loving me “to God and back.”
It made sense to me, and has become the best expression of the depth of our love for one another. Chloe’s love inspired me to write a book called “I Love You to God and Back” and this month, a children’s version of this book will be published that expresses the love between a parent and child in the context of faith. It is about seeing the world and spirituality through the innocent eyes of a child.
So, whether I say it in person, on the phone, through email or in a text message, I am determined to let my children know how much I love them. I don’t think there can ever be too many “I love yous” between a parent and child.
It is this unending, uncompromising, unfettered love that makes us richer human beings. And I truly believe that children who are deeply loved will grow up to be adults who love.
And doesn’t that make the world a better place?
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including three on motherhood. Check her website for more information about her new book for children. Find Amanda here every Monday.