Love Is …


I love you — three little words that send the most powerful message in the world. It’s hard to believe only eight letters have so much impact on our lives.

Valentine’s Day is not my favorite holiday, I admit. It’s a bit too commercialized and mushy for me. And though I’m no stranger to love, the word took on a whole new meaning when I became a mom.

I learned motherly love is the most powerful human expression possible. It hits you like a wave when you see your newborn and it stays with you forever (at least so far as I’ve lived), welling up in you at the most inopportune moments. Remember the first day your baby walked into preschool independently, without looking back, and you burst into tears? Or the way your heart melts just to watch your child sleeping. Or the feeling inside you still get when he gives you a home-made valentine that says “To Mom. I love you.”

Motherly love. Even after all these years, I still marvel at the power of this overwhelming, unconditional expression of affection. But how I express it in words has evolved over the years.

As a new mom, it was easy to say those three little words so many times my throat hurt. Overcome with gratitude and wonder, pondering the miracle of my newborn, I just kept repeating the mantra “I love you,” almost as a prayer. As my child grew, it was the one communication that I hoped would seep into that precious little brain, so he would never doubt how much he was loved in his world.

Then, as the Terrible Two’s rolled in and my precious little one could actually talk back and cause a heap of trouble, I said “I love you” more often than normal, as a constant reminder to myself not to get angry. When trying times (and a mischievous, tantrum-throwing toddler) pushed me to the edge of patience, “I love you” was the lifeline that reeled me back in.

Preschool years brought about that familiar three-word expression as assurance, a ritual repeated frequently to my little schoolboy as he left for school and returned, to reinforce the idea that although we were apart during the day, it did not mean love had gone away.

Finally, as he grows older and the pages of the calendar seem to tear off so fast it’s as if they slip through my grasping fingers, drifting away in the breeze, I have to remind myself to say those three words more often. Sometimes, in a rush to pack lunches, check homework, make it to work on time, shuffle to after-school activities and get dinner on the table, I forget to say them in the daily routine. And so I ask … “Do you know something, Crawford?”

And my son says, “Yes. I know, Mom. You love me.”

February is the month of love. I know you, our readers, love your children dearly. It’s one of the reasons you pick up our magazine — to find out how to do a better job every day as a parent. But even loving families forget to say those three little words. This is the month to start again. Don’t hesitate! Tell your son, your daughter, your partner, your brother, your sister, your mother, your father … say the three words.

If you need some help, in this month’s issue writer Kathy Sena gives us “12 Ways to Say I Love You” to our children. And couples, don’t forget your partners. Find out how to take a “timeout” with your significant other. As parents, we cannot love our children fully, if we do not model love, and that means finding “kid-free” time to love each other and ourselves.

And you’ll just LOVE our special camp section with a Residential Camp Directory loaded with options for your family and articles to help take the mystery out of the camp experience for first-time campers.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

With love …