As I was tucking my 7-year old daughter in bed last night she asked, out of the blue, “why do you love me, daddy?”
I paused, laid down beside her, looked her in the eyes and give her the most honest answer I could muster: “because you’re my daughter.”
She frowned, clearly dissatisfied with my response. “That’s it? You love me because I’m your daughter and that’s all?”
“Yup,” I responded, “I love you because you are my daughter and that means that there isn’t anything you can do to make me love you any more or any less. My love isn’t based on what you do, it’s based on who you are. Now, do you want to know why I like you?”
She smiled because this was what she really wanted to hear.
“I like you because you are funny, and because you like to tell stories in front of the mirror, and because you give me the biggest hugs when you come home after school, and because you like to sing and dance and draw, and because you are smart, and because you are a giant weirdo who makes the most amazing videos. But liking you for the way you act is different than loving you because you are my daughter.”
She laid there sort of quiet for a moment, processing a comparison between like and love that demanded some processing.
“So even if I do things you don’t like, you always love me…because I’m your daughter.” It was a question and a statement.
“Exactly.” I got up leaned over the bed and hugged her before kissing her goodnight.
(I hope you have someone that likes you for all the cool things you do, but loves you just because of who you are. We all need those people…and we all need to be those people for someone else.)