There are 3 powerful words that warm my heart when they come my way. When uttered from my mouth, they transform my kids … even though it can take time for them to sink in, really sink in.
I’ve caught myself saying them a lot lately, wishing that they would be reciprocated. In the world of oft-stubborn teens, they rarely spontaneously pass the lips of my kids as much as I would hope or like. Still, the kids’ use or lack thereof doesn’t change my obligation to say them. And my role to model their use.
Three other powerful words, “I love you”, float so easily from my mouth. They pop out almost like a reflex throughout our day. I wonder if the kids hear them so often that they don’t believe the message behind them… or think them less than what I mean. Sometimes I can almost hear their thoughts in response to my frequent love-fest gushing, “You have to.” or “You’re my mom, of course you love me.” or “Quit saying that in front of my friends. You are sooooooo embarrassing!” — I just can’t stop myself. When I look at them I see those cute little babies below the surface of those often crusty, cool exteriors. Even though the kids are getting taller than me, I can still spy some of that sweet little toddler hiding inside. Then I can’t help myself, “I love you!!” … eye-roll “Maawwhhmmm!!”
The love words are effortless for me.
The others, not so much.
Some situations are easier than others. When I’ve overstepped a boundary, said something I’d like to take back; when I’ve allowed busy-ness to creep in and make me crabby; when I’ve expected something different than delivered, rudely snapped, or forgot to … well so many things in that arena – the other day it was picking up someone at school – the words come out of my mouth with regretful sincerity.
It’s when I know that saying the words, though necessary, might provide an open door for the kid who thinks he/she is the center of the universe to to think that they were right – that I struggle the most. But my struggle never relieves me of my need (dare I say duty) to say the words.
I guess that’s part of the power behind them. If we don’t give into the forces that pull us away from using them – forces like the recipient deserving them, or that I’m owned them, or that it just doesn’t matter – we just might get to fully experience their potential to restore. Especially when a parent airmails them to their kid.
Three little words that pack a huge punch, “I am sorry”.
I offered them several times yesterday. It was one of those days.
Words that just might be even more powerful than “I’m sorry” were mailed back, “I forgive you”.
Thanks for walking the humbling road of parenting with me. It would sure be a tough trek to go alone.