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There's No Love Like the Love Your Kids Have For You When They Are Small

Photograph by Twenty20

My oldest son was a loud, animated, wild young boy. He was a talker, a laugher, and although he was very confident, his eyes met mine many times a day—he was looking for approval.

I knew when he took off his shoes and put them away, or helped me plant flowers, he was doing it because it was fun, yes, but when he would grab my face with his soft, chubby hands and kiss me and say, " I just love you, Mama," he was also doing it for the love he felt for me, he wanted to please me.

And when my daughter came along, she used to stare at me for long periods of time as I held her in my arms. It was rare she was distracted by her brother. His loudness never seemed important, for years, she only had eyes for me.

When she grew a bit older, she would lie in bed with me and say, "Mom, let's look at each other for a long time." And that's exactly what we would do.

I know when your kids are young, and are so dependent on you, it can leave you feeling depleted— physically and emotionally.

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I also know women who have been there and done that will say things like "Enjoy every moment, it goes fast." And deep down, you know they are right.

But we don't enjoy every moment—we can't. We aren't Pollyanna. We get tired, frustrated, and angry. We all have a breaking point. For most of us, our kids know how to push our buttons more than anyone else does.

No one is enjoying anything when their child is throwing a temper tantrum, or refuses to stay in bed. I've yet to meet a parent who said," I just loved potty training my toddler! I enjoyed every second of it."

Yes, they still love me, but their love has changed.

As a mom of a teenager and two tweens, I'm not going to tell you to enjoy every moment. Honestly, that phrase is ridiculous.

But I will say this: When you have moments you feel like you have nothing left, when you wish your kids didn't need you quite so much, when you need a break but aren't able to take it, I want you to know, my son never grabs my face and kisses me anymore. He squirms away whenever I try to plant one one him. He never tells me he loves me unless I say it first.

My daughter doesn't have time to just lie around and stare at me these days.

Yes, they still love me, but their love has changed. With their new independence and growing social life, comes a different kind of love. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, compares to the love our kids have for us when they are little.

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We are the center of their universe. We are the greatest love of their life. To them, we are everything.

So maybe if you are at your wit's end, or feeling like you can't possibly play another game of Candy Land, or tuck them in bed one more time, remember the love they have for you right now is fleeting; it will change one day.

It might not make tough moments any easier for you, but maybe it will. I know it certainly did for me.

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