The other day I was crouched on the ground in front of the fridge shoving something into some back corner and Emma came up behind me and hugged my back. Her little arms stretched around the small of my back. As I turned she ran around me and into my chest, she wrapped her arms around my neck and said,
"Aw, thank you, Emma. I love your hugs," I may have said that. I may have been too shocked to even respond other than silently accepting her hug.
I think this is the first real show of outright appreciation. For awhile she would kind of say,
"I low loo," a version of 'I love you.' I don't think she really knew what she was saying and, I think, mostly she was parroting our 'I love you's.'
We get hugs and we get snuggles. We get rushing to us when she's distressed, but 'thank you?'
No, this is the first one.
I was amazed that a tiny little person could get that. I know that she knows that she's supposed to say 'thank you' when we give her something. She does that quite frequently and we react big and tell her we like it when she says 'thank you.' She does it quite regularly I am assuming because it makes people respond so wonderfully to her. Out of nowhere, though? Does she understand all that I do for her? Does she get turning my life upside down to make sure that she's taken care of and raised well? I mean, I hadn't even gotten her juice in the moments before she hugged me. This was a completely unmitigated thank you.
I wish she was saying 'I love you,' but isn't 'thank you' a kind of 'I love you?' Thank you for accepting for who I am. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for being brave enough to have me. Thank you for protecting me. Thank you for loving me.
I have often wondered at the seemingly one-sided nature of parenthood. I grew up feeling like I could never re-pay my mother for all that she had done for me, but I knew that when I had a child I would do that for her. So often while holding her, breathing her sweet unblemished scent I worship at the alter of her, how amazing it is that I have had a child, and how amazing it is that she is so perfect.
Here I receive a little baby 'thank you' and I am stunned. That's all it takes. All the night wake-ups, all the fatigue, all seems worth it. That something so precious could love me back.