I watched as mom slipped on a pair of shoes and clipped a sponge curler into her bangs.
“Adrian’s taking me to the Hat. Ask him if you can go too, sale ” she suggested.
I shook my head, ask “I already told Danny I’d go with him to 5:15 Mass. Besides, I just had some chili cheese fries from there last week. Do you know you can get tomatoes and pickles on them?”
I changed subjects as she put on a light jacket.
“Mom, how often do I ask you if you love me? Once a month? Every other month?”
She thought for a moment before answering. “Probably every other month.”
It sounded about right.
The questions started in high school after she brought home Mama, do you love me? from the kindergarten classroom where she worked as a teacher’s aide. The children’s book focuses on the unconditional love between mother and child.
The sweet story resonated with me and soon I found myself imitating the little girl in the book.
“Mama, do you love me?” (Or papa, I posed the question to him too.)
Mom would half-smile at me. “Of course, I love you.”
Dad would respond, “Yes, daughter-child. I love you.”
It wasn’t as if I’d never heard the words from them before this point. My parents are affectionate and honest. Mom would sneak a note in to the bags I packed for a week away at Girl Scout camp. Dad would remind us he loved and cared for us after a stern lecture.
Years later, I still ask. I want to hear the words. I often go days and weeks without seeing them. Thus, the words provide some of that warmth I miss from their hugs and home.
But I don’t need to hear “yes, Cindy, I love you” like I used to. Instead, I see it as I ask for help or support. They come through. Always. They’ve been doing it my whole life.