A month before Mother’s Day, I was puzzling through one of those weighty questions in life. When should I say, “I love you”? I was thinking about it because someone said these words to me, unexpectedly. I’m not sure what I told him in return, but it wasn’t “I love you.” I wasn’t comfortable returning the sentiment.
Ask the smartest guy
Like I do with so many other things I ponder in life, I took the question to the smartest guy I know — my husband, Bill. He said “I love you” is a deep sentiment shared with family (either by blood or acceptance). Then he told me about a client who signed off on their phone conversation saying, “Love you!” Bill knew she said it absentmindedly. (He knows clients love the work he does for them, but this was getting too personal.) No surprise, the next time he spoke with her, she apologized.
Second story: I remember my surprise the first time I heard our daughter, Janet, tell her boyfriend, Tyler, that she loved him. It was at the end of a phone conversation I overheard while on a Spring Break trip to the Smoky Mountains. I don’t remember any other words from her conversation, but I was irked that she’d say those three words to Tyler. Those words are reserved for family, I thought. (Janet was unapologetic.)
3 magic words
Fast forward a couple of years and Tyler has become family. Janet and Tyler were married May 4, 2019. Coincidentally, our new son-in-law was the one who finally made me realize when it’s right to tell someone “I love you.” He confirmed Bill’s answer without knowing it. As he and Janet were leaving the wedding reception and I said goodbye, those three little words slipped out. “I love you, Tyler,” came off my lips before I could think about them. Unlike the words slipped out by Bill’s client, my words felt right. They had the emotion behind them to match their meaning.
The meaning of love
Truly, Tyler is now part of the family not just in name but in love, also. On their beautiful wedding day, I conclusively found the answer to my question: A person is ready to say those words when the words come out naturally. No second guessing, just effortlessly coming from the heart. So, I needn’t worry anymore about when to say those magic words. Simply put, if the moment is right, I’ll know it.
Mother’s Day 2019
In closing, on this Mother’s’ Day 2019, I’d like to officially announce I am now a mother to one more wonderful son. Tyler, I love you. Thanks for helping me understand the meaning of love on a whole new level.