The other day, for the first time ever, I almost told my mom that I loved her.
Technically, it was my second time telling her so. The first time, though I didn’t say it directly to her, I did utter those dreaded “three little words” to a camera that was filming a special video for Mother’s Day at church. I was asked to say something nice about my mom and I got excited, I guess, so I ended my little speech with “I love you, Mom.” It seemed like the right thing to say. Plus I knew my mom would never hear or see the video since she lives in Guatemala and this took place in Arizona, so I was safe.
Now the one time I almost told my mother that I loved her, in a moment of weakness and excitement followed by a lovely conversation we’d had over the phone, was a recent one. The words rolled dangerously out of my tongue like a snowball down a slippery slope. But I was able to contain them just in time, before the little snowball went tumbling down and turned into a giant avalanche.
Phew! Safe again.
You see, I grew up in a basically normal home and was raised by good parents who loved me very much but were not good at expressing their feelings – especially affection.
My husband was the first person I ever said “I love you” to. And, as crazy in love as I was with the guy, saying so to him for the first time was really scary.
Then we moved to the States and people at my church seemed to so frivolously tag an “I love you” at the end of a conversation – like a harmless air kiss after a greeting or a polite gesundheit after a sneeze. It totally freaked me out! Nevertheless, after almost 30 years immersed in this wonderful American culture, I now find myself responding “I love you, too” less forcefully and without cringing. In fact, there are times when I am the one who won’t part ways without saying a heartfelt “love you!” to a close friend. And I even like it.
So after my mom and I were done with our above-referenced phone call, the infamous “I love you” almost escaped my treacherous lips so frightening naturally and without me noticing it. Almost.
“I… I…” I hesitated.
Suddenly, in those seemly endless nanoseconds of horror and restraint I realized that, for crying out loud, this was my mother and would it kill me to stop holding back so I could show her some affection? So I decided to throw caution to the wind and let the words flow: “I love you, Mom.”
Then there was silence…. Followed by noticeable shock from both ends of the line. Followed by a quick save: “So have a nice weekend, and say hi to Dad from me please. Bye!” And then a rapid click on the red “end call” icon.
And with that, I broke a 51-year-old record. No one died. No blood was shed, not even a tear. But I felt happy I had been so careless – once the shock wore off, that is. And I’m pretty sure my mom felt very happy too. So next time the urge to tell my mom that I love her takes over, I might just give in. And – who knows! – maybe I’ll just continue to do so again and again.
I’m pretty sure my carelessness will be worth it.