I tell my kids that I love them a lot, several times a day, in fact. And I hug and kiss them a lot, too, almost as often as I tell them I love them. I'm not sure how much longer the older two are going to be willing to be kissed by their mommy, so I'm trying to get as many in now as I can.
You may know that Logo, my middle child, is the one with whom I have the most, shall we say...issues. He is loud, impulsive, and stubborn, and has a hair-trigger temper. Logo is also passionate, generous, kind, the best hugger ever (side-note: recently, Logo has taken up a practice we call kamikaze hugging, where he runs as fast as he can and launches himself into the air for a hug--he almost knocked me down the stairs the other day), smart, and has a keen sense of justice--he really is a great kid. But most of my frustration and anxiety as a parent can be attributed to Logo, either directly or indirectly. The most frustrating aspect of being Logo's mommy is that he is so much like me. And I remember what I was like as a kid...let's just say that I wasn't too fun for my parents to parent, either. Sorry, mom and dad.
I asked him, "do you know that I love you no matter what?" And he looked at me like I was nuts (he's really good at that). "No," he said, and after a pause he asked, "really?"
Yes, Logo, really. I love you so much, much more than you can understand, and there is nothing that you could do or say to change that. Nothing. I may not like what you do or what you say sometimes; I may be annoyed with you, or disappointed in the choices you make. And sometimes, I even might not like you very much, but I will always, always love you. Because, Logo, I love you. Not what you do. Not what you say. You are not defined by those things; you are so much more than that. You are valued and precious and loved, no matter what.
So I'm still telling my kids I love them often, and sneaking in as many hugs and kisses as I can, too (and watching out for those kamikaze hugs), but now, instead of 3 little words, it's 6: I love you...no matter what.