Last week while tucking my 11-year old into bed, he asked me: “mom, do you always love me?”
I was taken aback. “What do you mean, ‘do I always love you?'” I asked.
“I mean, when I do something bad or when you’re really, really mad at me, do you still love me then? I mean, are there ever times when you don’t love me?” he asked.
I couldn’t even believe my ears.
“There has never been a time when I haven’t loved you—nor will there ever be,” I said.
“Okay, what if I go to jail one day… even then?” he asked.
“Even then!” I answered. “I will love you no matter what you do or where you end up. Even if it’s jail—which, by the way, I’m confident will not be the case. But that doesn’t mean I’ll always love your actions. There’s a big difference,” I explained.
“Okay, cause you were pretty mad at me before. I thought maybe you stopped loving me for a minute,” he said.
In that moment, it occurred to me that even though I’m usually pretty overt about my love for my kids, they may need additional reinforcement during those times when we’re arguing. Especially during those times when we’re arguing.
“Don’t be cray cray,” I said. “I love you and your brother more than life itself. Yes, I was pretty angry before; I wasn’t in love with your actions— but I am in love with you, always. [silent pause] Okay?”
We kissed goodnight. He went to sleep and I went into reflection. And from that moment on, I vowed to end every argument with my children with the following words: “Remember, no matter how angry I get, I will always love you. Got it?”
Our kids may act tough, sometimes—but inside, they just want to know that they are loved. We all do.