I recently read "Just Let Me Lie Down: Necessary Terms For The Half-Insane Working Mom" by Kristin van Ogtrop, which I received free for participation in the SV Moms Group Book Club. (SV Moms Group is the umbrella group under which I write for the Rocky Mountain Moms Group occasionally.)
Kristin van Ogtrop is the editor of Real Simple magazine, which means she's a high-power working gal. In her book, she has lots to say about balancing work and life issues, or at least coming to terms with the fact that balance is an elusive thing for most working mothers. A lot of what she has to say is interesting, most of it's witty, tiny bits of it left me scratching my head.
One tiny bit that stood out as a head-scratcher for me is a comment van Ogtrop made about saying "I love you." The context is that it's a chapter in which she talks about the strangeness of realizing she may possibly love a coworker. Love as in motherly love, friendly love, not some sordid office romance type of love. First she confesses, "I am not a big 'I love you' person," then a few paragraphs later she says this:
"Many people who rise to leadership positions do so in part because they can control their emotions (see Emotional tourniquet, p. 63). Sometimes I think the only reason I have been hired to run a magazine is because I'm able to remember to keep a box of tissues in my office and I can usually remain dry-eyed while others around me burst into tears. I'm sure there are individuals I work with who pity my children, raised as they are by a woman who appears to have no emotions but the occasional flash of anger. To those colleagues: I assure you, I do tell my children and my husband that I love them. At least every once in a while."
It's those last couple sentences that caught my attention. I'm sure van Ogtrop isn't dead serious about the "every once in a while" part, but it made me consider how often the "I love you"s are thrown around in my family.
I come from a family where "I love you" was rarely said; my dad still says it only in third person ("Your dad loves ya"). I wanted things to be different in the family Jim and I created, and it is. We say "I love you" all the time, possibly so often that it has lost its oomph.
It started off when the girls were little that after bedtime prayers there'd be "Goodnight, I love you." Then, when they left the house it'd be "Have fun. Be safe. I love you!" Now it's the last thing we say at the end of telephone calls: "I love you. Bye!"
Even Bubby -- who, as a typical 22-month-old, still has a relatively limited word reportoire -- has learned the phrase. As we wrapped up our most recent Skyping conversation, he said "Bye!" followed by a mumbled "ahwhuhwhoo." Translation from Megan: "That's his 'I love you.'"
"Ahwhuhwhoo"s notwithstanding, most of our family phone calls are now end with what sounds much like "love-ya-bye!" as we all lead busy lives and rush to get off the phone so we can move along to the other dire matters that fill our days.
And I don't like that. Sure, the sentiment is still there, but this is an instance in which it's not just the thought that counts. It's the saying it like you mean it that counts.
So going forward (gotta love that corporate phrase left over from corporate days) I plan to enunciate, to say it like I mean it. Because I do mean it. More than anything else in my life. I love my girls, my husband, my Bubby.
And my readers.
I love you!
Extra special bonus because I love you guys: I received two copies of "Just Let Me Lie Down" by Kristin van Ogtrop to give away. Enter to win one in the Back Room.
In an average day, how many times do you say "I love you"?
My answer: Probably five or six times.