Every mom knows the only possible answer to, “How much do you love me?” is some variation of, “Infinity.”
But as one mom pointed out, that’s because the truth is too big to explain.
As that UK mom wrote on her Facebook blog, “I Know, I Need to Stop Talking,” before she had children, she sometimes worried about whether she would even like them:
The irony is, that before I had my children, I didn’t think I would actually love them much at all. That probably sounds terrible written down like that: but it’s the truth. I don’t like children. I have barely a maternal bone in my body. Before I had Jamie I was genuinely petrified as to whether I would or could love him as much as I was supposed to.
Never particularly maternal, she continued to fret and panic about not loving her children right up to the moment her son was born. Then everything changed. She told Dearly:
“They put him into my arms and it was like someone turned a light switch on, and all this love just suddenly radiated out of me, and I honestly couldn’t imagine how I had ever worried it would be otherwise. They are the best thing that has ever, ever happened to me.”
And yet, when her children ask how much she loves them, the answer quickly becomes a game.
Why is it that “I love you” turns into a game of one-upmanship? Perhaps because children have no idea what to do with the real answer — “How can you actually explain to your child how much you love them?”
Putting the real answer to how much a mother loves her children into words is not easy. But she gave it a try. Starting with the overwhelming, infinite nature of it:
I love you more than I can begin to properly articulate. I love you more than there are stars in the sky, words in the dictionary or breaths in my body.
I love you to the point that when I wrap my arms around you to hug you, I have to physically stop myself from squeezing you too tightly, because my love for you is so great that if I could cuddle you until we both just merged into one giant hug, I would do.
Then there’s the instinct that has moms sneaking into the bedroom at night to watch their children breathe or risk everything to save them:
I love you from the moment I open my eyes each day, through every single waking activity that I do, to the moment that I close my eyes each night, and then right on through until morning, with every single beat of my heart and rise and fall of my chest.
I love you to the extent that I would wrestle sharks, fight wildebeest, attack sabre toothed tigers and jump in front of a bullet for you, all simultaneously, without even a thought, just to keep you safe.
There’s also the humble, everyday demonstration of love — not a small thing. It’s what carries moms through the chores and irritations of ordinary life:
I love you so much that even when you’re being the greatest irritant known to man, and I could gladly lock myself in the airing cupboard for the afternoon with a bottle of gin just to get away from you … I don’t. And even when you’re being a total knob, or winding up your sibling for the sake of it, or repeating how bloody unfair life is for the eighty five millionth time … I just love you more.
I love you every moment of every microsecond of every second of every minute of every hour of every day of every week of every month of every year of every everything of my entire life.
I love you for ever, and beyond for ever, and I will never stop loving you, not even at the end of all time, not ever, not never. I will love you for ever.
So why don’t we tell our children the truth about how much we love them? Because we also know how they’ll react. As she wrote on Facebook:
But they get freaked out when you tell them all that, so I just stick with the whole, “loving more than universes,” line, whilst at the same time knowing that, despite the fact they wind me up more than pretty much anyone else in the entire world can do … that I feel like my heart will explode, because I love them so, so f*****g much
Of course, not every mother experiences the same explosion of love when they hold their first child. But they do know what it’s like to feel as though your whole world can be found in one slightly grimy hand. As she told Dearly:
“I know from chatting to other mums that not everyone has the ‘light switch’ moment — for others, it’s more of a slow burn — but either way, that all encompassing love is there.”