I want my children to feel that. Books talk about the primal wound in adopted children and how there is a hole in their heart that will never completely be filled. I hope that's not true, but it probably is. So, all I can do is fill it as much as I can with love.
William knows I love him. I tell him, a lot. But after 3 years, I feel like I've just become more aware of how much he needs me to show it. The slightest aggravated response will stick with him all day. This hit home, the other day. I was lecturing him about something he did wrong. I don't even know what it was, but it seemed relevant, at the time. At the end, I gave him a hug and told him I loved him. And he started to cry. (This happens.) But, this time, he told me about a kid, at school, who yelled at him. The kid wasn't even mad at William, he was reacting to something else. Plus, he apologized, a few minutes later. But, William was still hurting about it. It's so important to him that everyone likes him and is happy with him.
Because of this, I'm trying extra hard to be aware of what I say. I try to remember that the things that I say and do will be remembered, long after they've left home and started their own families. (Which will be hard since I'm never letting them grow up...) I wish I was more successful. I say things all the time that I wish I hadn't. I constantly miss opportunies for a memory. I know that I'm not unique in this, but I also feel like it's really important that I do the best I can do because my kids really, really need it. This is a bit overwhelming.
But, the good news is, when I'm not losing my cool or missing the moments; I'm singing silly songs, dancing, and making jokes. I sing, dance, and joke so much that each child has asked me to stop, on different occasions. I don't, of course. That just wouldn't be any fun. But, there are worse things. :)
So, the other day, I got to thinking that we needed a "thing." We needed one of those sayings. "I love you to the moon and back." or something like that. I wanted something that I could say to them, always. I could say it now. I could say it in their teenage years when it would annoy them, but they'd later think of it, happily. I could say it when they go off to college. I had big plans! I was getting really excited and wracking my brain for our super sweet "thing." :)
I finally came up with one.
Me - "Who loves you?" My loving child - "Mommy!" I was also willing to accept "You do!" ;) It wasn't neccesarily a masterpiece of sentimental expressions, but it got the point across. So, I was off to try it.
"William! Who loves you?" William looked at me blankly, with confusion. I guess the answer was a little more obvious to me. I advised him that it was me and moved on.
"Antwan! Who loves you?" He looks at me and casually answers "Girls!"
Well, the answer was obvious to him...it just wasn't the one I was looking for. :)
Lizzie just ignored me, completely.
At this point, I gave up and just told them to go to bed.
For a week, I asked Antwan and he would always say "girls." My victory came when he amended it to "Girls...and mommy." Hey, I'll take it. :)
I don't think they'll remember our catch phrase. Well, they might, but it won't be a demonstration of my everlasting love for them. Unfortunately, I know they will remember the time that I lost it because William took my spot on the couch yet again. But, with any luck, they'll also remember my brilliant songs, silly dances, and hilarious one-liners. And, hopefully, they'll smile. And, know they were loved and that they will always be loved. Because they are. They really, really are.