The other day I was in the bookstore with my son. I would love to say that we spent the time perusing various titles together and enjoying each other’s views on literature. However, that was not the case. In an effort to fill the void until sacred nap time, we went to look. And when I say look, I mean “touch and climb on everything.”
A very friendly sales associate came by to ask if we needed any assistance, and my toddler’s body language clearly said, “No, thank you. I am perfectly happy taking every book off this second shelf and then moving on to another.”
As I was cleaning in the wake of my little hurricane, I noticed the Valentine’s Day display. I’m not gonna lie: It was adorable. There were tons of books expressing the depth and kinds of love mommies and daddies had for their babies, babies had for their parents, animals had for their babies, and babies had for random animals.
But as I flipped through a couple, I realized none of them really spoke to me. Yes, they were beautiful, but when I visualize the love I have for my son, it has nothing to do with butterflies, dancing bears, or flower gardens. My son throws a tantrum every time I take his hand to cross the street; I really don’t see us walking hand-in-hand down a garden path framed by flowers anytime soon.
So because I didn’t see a book that spoke to me, I wrote my own. Here is my Valentine’s Day message to my son. I call it “I Love You More: An Ode To The Person Who Has Destroyed My Life.”
I Love You More Than Coffee
I remember vividly the day the doctor told me I was pregnant with you. I will never forget it because it was the day he told me I had to cut back on my coffee habit. Do you know what it’s like to wake up and not be able to enjoy the one thing that will get you through the morning? Do you know how difficult it is trying to get excited about decaf?
Imagine I took away your sippy cup right now. Then you’ll start to have an idea. But every time I looked down at my tummy, I was reminded that it was totally worth it. And I’m reminded every time I see you run, and jump, and make a beeline for those stairs. Which is why I’m also glad I’m allowed caffeine again. I love you more than coffee, baby. And also more than deli meat and sushi.
I Love You More Than Sleep
Do you know there were days when your dad and I wouldn’t wake until 9 a.m.? We would slowly stretch and yawn and ask each other what we should do for the day. I dunno. Maybe breakfast? Then the dog park? Maybe a movie? And in the afternoons, whenever we wanted, we could take naps. I know you hate those, but one day you will discover they are the most lovely things in the world.
And then you came. And you changed everything. And now “sleep in” means any day you stay in your crib past 7. I won’t blame my entire loss of sleep on you. Some of it is my fault. When you were tiny, I used to stay up just to stare at you in your bassinet, checking every 10 minutes to see if you were still there, still breathing. I still will wake up sometimes to look at you in the baby monitor. I know, that’s a bit creepy. Sorry. But I love you, even more than sleep.
I Love You More Than My Dignity
I consider myself a quiet person. Growing up, I was incredibly shy. So much so that I hope you don’t inherit that part of my personality. In fifth grade, I ran out of the classroom because I didn’t want to recite a poem out loud.
I only tell you that anecdote because that is not the mom you are familiar with. The mom you know is the one who now sits in a circle with a group of grown women singing “The Wheels on the Bus” with all her heart, she’s the one who walks like a dinosaur in public because it makes you laugh, and she’s the one who acted out all the motions to “If You’re Happy and You Know It” during a long car ride so you would stop crying even though the car next to us was making fun of her. The sound of your laughter is like a drug to me. I will pretty much do anything to make you giggle. Because I love you. More than my dignity.
I Love You More Than Regular Hair Appointments
Even though you are not responsible for all my gray hairs, you certainly aren’t helping. Before you, I would have never let my hair get to the condition it’s in. Now I just don’t have the time. Nor do I really care as much, frankly. I think I put more effort into dressing you than I do myself. Yeah, you are definitely way more put together than I am. I bet people walking down the street think, “Who is that stylish toddler with the homeless woman in yoga pants?” when they see us. But it’s okay. Because I love you more than regular hair appointments.
I Love You More Than Fancy Restaurants
There are these places that people go to where they can talk quietly over a bottle of grown-up juice and eat food with both their hands. The tablecloth is not supposed to be drawn on, and there are no high chairs. When you are finished, you don’t throw your food on the floor. It sounds strange, I know, but your dad and I used to go to these places. We would wear not-pajamas, and we’d pretend our spoons were spoons and not airplanes.
Now we have you, and you’re not allowed. And even if you were, I would not subject others to your antics. Also, we have a college account that needs attention. So, instead, our special days look more like watching Game of Thrones and eating Five Guys after you go to bed, which is just fine for us. Because we love you. More than fancy restaurants.
I love you so much, my little troublemaker. I love you when you’re throwing a tantrum, when you won’t go to sleep, and when you poke me in the eye as you are identifying body parts. And even though you will probably never hold my hand as we walk among flowers in the sunshine with butterflies on our shoulders, I know that you love me too.
Oh, and I also love you more than the last bite of my croissant that you wanted this morning.