I love you. Three little words I’ve promised my children every day. There’s not a day that will pass that they won’t hear me utter those words. There’s nothing more important than my kids knowing how deeply loved they are. They must know how valuable they are. There are so many things I proclaim over them, because I don’t ever want them to feel unloved, unworthy, or hated. They must know, so I tell them.
You’re so beautiful. While they watch me hide my imperfect body in shame, and snarl at the reflection I see.
You can do anything you put your mind to. While they watch me bury my dreams, and refuse to take risks.
You’re worthy of love. While they watch me keep myself hidden, guarded, and protected from rejection.
You deserve the best. While they watch me settle for mediocre.
Be brave. While they watch me live in fear.
Take care of yourself. While they watch me give myself away, until I’m depleted, and just a shell of who I am.
I love you. While I say, I hate me.
My children will always know how much I love them, because I never failed to tell them. I never told them that I hated them. I didn’t have to, because I taught them how to say it to themselves.
My love is important, vital, even, to their health and growth, but my love is only half of the coin, because there will come a day when they will no longer sit in the shadow of my wing, there will be a day when I will no longer be the one they seek. There will come a day when my love will not enough, and they will look for love and worth in others — friends, lovers, and their own children.
All these places are wonderful places to seek for love, but the source of this love comes from outside of them, it comes from others, and we know how others can fail. If our children only learn to look to others to define their love, their beauty, their value, then they will be disappointed, because the greatest of people fail.
Instead, if I can teach my children, if I can demonstrate that love, beauty, and value isn’t in the confirmation outside of them, but true love lies in the depths inside each of us. It’s in the well-spring of the human heart that one can find her own beauty, just how loved she is, and it’s within her soul that she can find true beauty.
If I can love myself, find beauty within me, if I drink from the wellspring of life inside of my own heart, then I have taught my children how to look within themselves to find their own value, love, and worth, because when it comes from within, then it can never be taken away from them, and they will never need to wait from someone else to say, “You are loved.”