Monday, August 5, 2013

My Child Really Loves Me

Once she graduated from the grublike infant stage, R was always pretty affectionate (if not very interested in snuggling, too many things to do!). But lately with her new expressiveness it has become really pronounced and darling.
She said "I love you" for the first time a couple weeks ago, and now she says it multiple times a day, mostly to me and her father (but also to her dolls). She also says "I like you, Mommy!" and "I miss you" if I've been gone (even if it's just in the next room). She loves hugs now and frequently will give them spontaneously, especially if we seem sad, worried or ill. Today I was ill and she brought me water on her own initiative and suggested I go to the doctor "to get a shot".

I wrote before that I don't care if she loves me or not, which is still true. I do like seeing her little face smiling at me, full of genuine affection: there is something so pure and untrammelled about all her emotions, and her feelings of love aren't any different. It makes me smile just thinking about it.

It also makes me anxious. Since R cares about me and my opinion of her very much, I have a great amount of power over her. A few days ago I told her I was disappointed with her after she did something I didn't like, and her face got all solemn and sad; then she immediately started doing what I wanted her to. I felt really conflicted about the whole interchange: on the one hand, I was pleased that she did what I wished; on the other, it felt kind of manipulative and coercive. I was using her love for me as a tool to get what I wanted.

I suppose love is a bit like that though. It ties you down, it reduces your options, and it gives others power over you. But that's the price you pay for the far more wonderful benefits it brings.

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