Remember when your husband first told you “I love you”? It’s the highlight of any romantic relationship and a pivotal moment for a couple. Do you remember how full your heart felt? The garden of butterflies in your stomach fluttering and the drop of your heart to your toes? It gives me chills to relive how wonderful that moment was, knowing it would be the last time I would have that first with someone. I didn’t think I could feel that rush of love and that high again.

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I did though. Yesterday. I felt an even better sensation. My son, who is almost two reciprocated his first “I love you” back to me. Now, I love nonverbal displays of adoration, too. The hugs and tight armed embraces around my neck. I especially love all the hand-holding and forehead kisses. I know in my heart those actions are evidence my baby loves me.

But when your child can verbally express his affection for you? THAT is the best feeling in the world.

Sorry husband, you’re a close second though.

When your child falls in love with you after you’ve loved him from the moment he was created, you feel blessed beyond all measure. I felt like I was the luckiest woman alive. I felt like I was on the top of the world. Ask any mother and she will tell you that even after 10,000 I love yous, she still feels fuzzy inside. She relaxes just a little bit in the moment and feels immense pride.

I have been telling my son I love you for a thousand days. One magical afternoon as I was sitting next to him in his high chair, he said, “eye-ya,” after I shared a quick I love you as I admired well he was eating.

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“DID YOU JUST SAY I LOVE YOU!?” I stood up and shouted with my hands to my face.

He giggled.

“I luh ya.”

Even clearer.

“I LOVE YOU, TOO!!!”

Game over. Absolutely nothing else will ever make me happier.

I had a belly full of monarchs. You love me, too! Alas, after all this time together of me loving you, you can say it back. I melted. I texted friends and family and made sure to soak in the blissful moment with endless hugs. This is what life is all about. This endless love.

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Those three unmistakable words instantly make me feel warm inside and empower me to push through the tough moments of toddlerhood. May these words always be reciprocated and never lose their meaning.

This is the greatest love story of my lifetime, and “eye-ya” too baby boy. Here’s to many more firsts together.

Jennifer Bailey

Stay at home mom enjoying one little boy and navigating parenting one trip to Target at a time.