When I turn it around on her and ask, "What's the answer to that? Does mommy love you?" she breaks into smiles and nods yes, so I know that despite the question, she's not actually questioning my love for her. But in a sweet moment of cuddles when we woke up this morning and were laying together on the couch, she asked a different question:
"Why do you love me?"
Oh, sweet, sweet girl. For so many reasons. And rather than covering her in kisses and telling her one reason and going on with our morning, we stopped for a minute and laid together in one another's arms, and I told her just the smallest bit of the millions of reasons why I love her.
You have made me a mommy. Before you, I was a lot of things. A woman, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a girlfriend, a nanny, a student - the list could go on and on. But nothing is more central to my identity than that of being a mother, and while I gave you life, you gave me life in return through that. Being a mom? It's hard work. It's endurance, and patience, and faith, and exhaustion, and a million different verbs rolled into that small word. But more than anything, to me, it is everything. I was born to be a mother, and more specifically, your mother. It's the greatest gift I have ever received, and you not only gave it to me, but taught me how to parent. You've taught me how to be a mother.
From your very first day on Earth, you've reached for my hair. Initially, while nursing, and you continued to twirl it and touch it throughout our two-and-a-half year nursing relationship. But you also grab for it while cuddling on the couch with me when tired, or sick, or just in need of some "schnug" time. To self-soothe in your sleep, you twirl your own hair, so much so that from the back? It's at a completely crooked angle that I refuse to cut. I love this about you. I love how vulnerable and innocent you seem in those moments, when the remainder of the day you spend being brave and courageous and absolutely taking my breath away with how much older you seem than your age.
You're brave. I'm brave too, now, but I wasn't always. I was a scared child, fearing all sorts of things no child should ever have to think of. Part of this is due to the way in which we parent, but you are brave and independent by nature - qualities that will serve you well in life.
You are kind. You kiss your baby brother in my belly, despite what I know must be your fear about his arrival. You cuddle with our animals, and tell them you love them. You give love freely, telling me multiple times a day that you love me. I hope you always are so generous with your heart.
You are so breathtakingly beautiful, there are no words in our language to describe it. While this doesn't affect my love for you - I would love you even if you had two heads and three eyes and no legs - my heart routinely skips a beat when I look at you. People often tell me how much you look like me, and I consider this the ultimate compliment.
You are such a happy child. You're always singing, dancing, hugging, kissing, clapping, smiling and just celebrating life around you. Even on my worst days, you change my perspective and remind me of how wonderful and novel life really is.
So, in case you ever wonder, yes, my darling. I love you more than all the stars in the sky, more than all of the salt in the sea, more than all of the trees in all of the forests. And nothing you can do will ever change my love for you.