Mom, do you love me?

“Mommy, I think you don’t love me,” she says, knowing little that she’s tearing me apart. I kneel down and look into her eyes.

“Now why wouldn’t I love such a beautiful little girl like you?” I ask her, with a little smile.

“Because I beat up my sister when she took my hair clips,” she responds glumly.

“Oh, that. Sweetie, I… I don’t like the beating up part. Remember, gentle hands? But I love you. I love you very much. Like so much,” I gesture with my arms wide open. She does not look convinced.

I pull her close. I sit her down in my lap. I tickle her neck. She refuses to laugh. Little girls are not little. They are grown individuals and with them you really have to watch what you say. I know, I should have realized it earlier.

“Right. Now…. Sweetheart? I’m sorry. I was mean. But sometimes mommies have to be a little mean. I’d like to be friends again,” I say earnestly.

She looks at my face, as though weighing the sincerity of my apology. I hold my breath and hope things work out. Getting out of this will not be easy.

“How about the butterfly hair clips? Maybe I could get you new pink ones…” I say, throwing in a fresh, perhaps more acceptable bargain. She appears disinterested.

Suddenly, her eyes light up. “Mom? Do you love me?” she asks.

I think I’m going to cry. “Oh of course. I love you darling. I love you very much,” I say. I try to hug her but she resists. I tell her to think about what I’ve been saying and if she feels like talking to me again, I’d be happy to be friends again.

She walks away and in my mind’s eye. I see myself, a little child standing in front of Mom, asking her if she loves me. Mom tells me I ask her that way too often, but obliges with a big hug. There’s no prizes for guessing where my little one inherited her “Mom, do you love me” sequence!

In a little while I hear someone cry. I walk outside the room to find that she has scraped her knee while trying to ride her toy car, and boy, it’s hurting. I provide the necessary hug, the comfort and suddenly she’s back in my arms without resistance, demanding that I give the bad toy car a full talking to. The heartache forgotten, the tears falling from her eyes are strangely healing.

Soon her little scrape is taken care of and she’s back on her toy car. She stops for a moment, and walks back towards me. She looks into my eyes. “Mom, do you love me?”

“What do you think?” I quip.

“I think you love me SO much,” she says opening her arms out wide. I smile at her. No words necessary.

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