I was just on the phone to my dad, and yet again found myself in a very strange situation wherein he says, “Love you lots.” and I say “Thanks …” like a high-school boyfriend. It’s even worse when mum says it – I have literally hung up on her to avoid a stammering “you too”.
It’s not that I don’t love them – quite the opposite. I adore my parents as much as I have ever adored anybody. I speak to them on the phone at least every second day and see them every week. Some days I go to their house and work side by side with my dad just because I enjoy his company so much. When mum is watching TV, I curl up inside her armpit and let her stroke my hair. I adore my parents.
It’s not that I’m not the “I love you” type. I tell my kids I love them every couple of minutes. I tell my friends I love them. I tell virtual strangers on the internet I love them. I tell my dog I love him. I tell my nanna I love her. I tell my parents I love them via text message only.
As you might imagine, it wasn’t always like this.
When I Was A Little Girl I would run up to my parents and scream “GUESS WHAT?” right in their faces, and they would say “What?” and I would say “I LOVE YOU!” At first they would smile and say it back with their faces buried in my adorableness. As time went on – and perhaps I picked my moments less successfully – they started to find me less and less wonderful. I would come thundering in yelling “GUESSSSSS WHAAAAAT?!?” and they wouldn’t look up from their books while murmuring “You love me”. Eventually I stopped.
Now, I’m an adult and I know that they were busy and that the novelty of your children shouting right in your face does eventually wear off. I know that they weren’t tired of hearing it and I know that they didn’t love me any less than before I started. But the sense that I will bug them remains, and I find myself in this bizarre position of being paralysed by fear when even thinking about spilling those three words out in their vicinity. And now I’m terrified that they will get old and die and I’ll look back and wonder why I didn’t say it more often. Or ever. At all.
brb off to the therapist.