I don’t remember ever telling my mom the words “I love you” or “Te quiero” as much as my daughter tells me. It’s not that I didn’t feel it, it just wasn’t part of the culture, I guess. Nor were we a hugging, kissing, cuddling bunch at all. Maybe I’m wrong and my memory just fails me and my mom will read this and set me straight, but not sure it counts if I can’t remember at all.
My daughter, on the other hand, can’t stop saying it. Those loving words just flow out of her mouth all day long – when it’s a good mood day, of course! Today was one of those days I was being showered in kisses, affection and the constant reminder of how much I am loved and that I am, in her own words,”the best mami ever!”
It’s probably due to the fact that my husband and I spent the whole long Thanksgiving weekend just being and doing with her. She ice skated for the first time, she had several play dates, she did science projects and played card games with us, we took her to the movies and even to her first big girl concert to watch the Fresh Beat Band live. It all had to add up to a feeling that
she’s spoiled rotten she’s loved unconditionally, allowing her to want to express it with no regrets. I’ll take that over horrible, feeling-neglected temper tantrums anytime.
This all got me thinking about that unforgettable day four years ago when she splurted out the words “I love you” for the first time. She wasn’t even two yet. She was in the tub getting a bath and I was sitting outside being silly with her and making funny faces. My girl was just cracking up uncontrollably. She paused to breathe, looked at me and said it: “I love you.” Just like that my heart melted. It was so unexpected, but how do you ever know when that first real expression of love from your baby will come? In a way, you don’t even realize they are capable of identifying the feeling yet well enough to actually put it into words. But for her, that moment of absolute intimacy and dedicated attention that made her laugh freely felt like love. And she put it in words.
No one can prepare you for the happiness you feel when you hear those three little words from your baby because, unlike hearing it for the first time in a romantic situation, there have been no expectations set in your relationship. Your child doesn’t yet know what effect the phrase really has over you, so there’s no manipulation or motive behind saying it, just pure and real love.
After all the ups and downs of parenting, the yelling, the tantrums, the dealing with it all, there’s always days like these when the unconditional love is what matters and hearing it becomes essential. Now I only hope I said it enough when I was a child and that I continue saying it enough now.
Do you remember your baby’s first “I love you?” I would love it if you shared with me in the comments because it’s such a beautiful topic to talk and reminisce about.
Buy the book I co-authored, Bilingual is Better: Two Latina Moms on How the Bilingual Parenting Revolution is Changing the Face of America.
Read more from me at
More on Besos:
Don’t miss the latest from Babble Voices — Like Us on Facebook!