Saying you love someone is different than telling them why you love them.
“I love you,” I say, smiling into my oldest son’s eyes, “because you are kind and loving. You are a good friend and brother. You always try to do what’s right.” He blushes at my words just as he squares his shoulders and sits a bit straighter in his chair.
“Why do you love me?” A. smiles.
“I love you,” I laugh, “because you bring joy to every ounce of life. You find the fun in living. You hug with all your heart. You love with every bit of you.”
“That sounds about right,” he nods in agreement.
F. patiently waits. At eight, he struggles with being cool and being hugged. Which wins depends on the day and if his friends are watching.
“You,” I wrap my arms around him and wait for the push back. Instead he settles his weight and leans into my shoulder. “You,” I kiss the top of his head, “amaze me with your creativity, your imagination, and your smarts. You see the world in a different way and I feel lucky when I get to see it through your eyes.”
I realize after I utter the words that my reasons I give for each boy vary as much as the boy.
Even though they are different and the things they bring into my life are different, it’s important for them to know that I love them each with all my heart. No exception.