I. Love. You.
My first recollection of those words being uttered by mother to me was when I was eighteen years old. I was eighteen and standing in her bedroom saying goodbye. As I reflect on it now I wonder if she'd said it sooner and more frequently, if she'd put it into action, would I have been so anxious and determined to set out on my own with no plans of looking back just four months out of high school?
As I challenged myself to consider the lies I had been told throughout my life I realize the one that haunted me most, that shaped my life and the decisions made for it was never implicitly spoken. And for me it cements the power of silence. Preoccupied with various health issues and life resentments that I believe stemmed from being a teenage mother, my mother's aversion to expressing anything resembling parental affection or interest during my years of growing up left me feeling unlovable. For most of my childhood it fostered a belief in me that I was incapable of giving, and most definitely receiving, love from anyone.
But then after some time I met someone special. It helped me realize that I didn't have to be my mother, that her destiny didn't have to be my own. In no way, shape or form did I want to be her when I learned that I was pregnant with each of my sons. With my pregnancies and their births I resolved to do things differently in my household. When the doctors placed my sons in my arms I promised each of them that they'd never have to wonder if they were loved or wanted. It is a promise that I've kept every day of our lives. And now that they are older and having reached the ages when I was crippled with such doubt about my importance, my value and worth, I see happiness, confidence and love radiating from my children. Now I see three words and all that they embody that I starved for as a child flow freely in my life as a woman, friend, and most importantly mother.