She loves you.
And she doesn’t say it a lot. She doesn’t say it as much as she knows she should.
The truth is, it’s hard to say, “I love you,” because “love” is not a sufficient word.
“Love” is the word that she uses when she wishes her best friend happy birthday, when she’s six months into a relationship with a boy who ever so valiantly opens the car door, when she describes the cute coffee shop she stumbled upon last Sunday.
Love is tossed around like boomerangs, thrown out and immediately drawn back in. It’s a rosary prayer that means less the more you say it. It’s a sickly sweet, milk-chocolate word.
So okay, maybe she doesn’t “love” you.
She loves to come home one minute before curfew. She loves to ask you why not. She loves to leave the house without a jacket just as much as she hates it when she realizes, ten minutes later, that she really wishes she had brought a gosh darn jacket.
She loves to push the buttons because she loves to feel young and dumb and high off adrenaline and late-night summer air; she loves the way it binds you, the way that you remember exactly how it felt to make these larger than life mistakes, the way you are trying in vain to protect her from a world that shapes innocence so quickly and heartlessly.
And she loves it, mom, because you were shaped by it, too. And she wants to be like you. She wants so desperately to become a woman who can give until the barrel runs dry, and then can turn around without a second thought and give the whole barrel, just like you do. To be bold enough to alert the waiter about her undercooked hamburger. To plan trips cross-country and pack every bag and miss not a beat. To smile with the radiance of other-worldly suns. To be wise enough to know when to say no, and to be caring enough to fight back against the yes when necessary. To live a life for others. To carry on with strength and grace despite bills to pay and grocery lists to make and the clog in the toilet upstairs and the soccer practice that starts in ten minutes, but is half an hour away. She knows that it is chaos. And she keeps quiet about how the way that you thrive (off of and in spite of) these storms is, to her, miraculous.
You say, “I love you,” and she mumbles out a, “Love you, too,” and the words do not suffice.
It is easy to “love” things that you could lose. And truthfully, anything in this world, she could lose, and survive through the loss.
Except, really, you. Her role model, her confidant, her breath and her hope and her rock. Her past, her present, her one true best friend. The only human being that has stuck by her even when she was wrong, and who celebrates every time she’s right.
When that first boy leaves, her heart will break.
But if you ever did, her lungs would shatter, too.
So just know that in that little grumble as she rushes out the door, there is something more than love. There is appreciation that runs as deep as the ocean, and gratefulness that towers as tall as the Rockies, and a still-growing-soul under it all that she inherited directly from you.
She knows how much you love her. She only wishes she could somehow assemble the language to say that she loves you more than the word “love” could ever portray.
Happy Mother’s Day!