My family is a demonstrative bunch and speakers in extremes. We don’t reserve the word “love” for those certain few people who warrant them. We use it for everything, even small things.
“I love this show,” “I love that shirt!” “Don’t you just love this soup?”
I wonder sometimes whether this just the way our society uses language, or if have me and the kids have watered everything down to where Grandma is equally as important as chocolate cake.
The flip side: when I don’t like something my kid does or says, I tell them in those words: “I don’t like that.” Often, their response is, “you don’t love me.”
Sure, it could be them manipulating me — maybe they just want to be reminded that I love them, so I do that. But it’s also a chance to teach them something I didn’t learn until I was grown up.
You can love someone and not always (or ever) like them.
Complicated relatives fall into this category. Sometimes friends pose this challenge. Even couples can go back and forth, as the years together push on and on.
Not liking who you love doesn’t always make sense, I assure my kids. And no, you’re not expected to tell the person “I love you but don’t like you.” But openness is important so, I tell them, if you’re ready to and do it respectfully, it’s OK to be honest about that too.
Love is something that endures, but liking can come and go. Sometimes space and time helps you like again — and it’s OK to have that.
Heady stuff for kids, but when they’re on my nerves and tell them, as often as I hear “you don’t love me,” I also hear “but I know you still love me.”
Which I most certainly do.