Note: This essay is included in the newest book from Chicken Soup for the Soul – "Chicken Soup for the Mother and Daughter’s Soul" that will be in bookstores in March of 2007. I’m excited and really feel grateful that my daughter gave me a glimpse of perfect love back in the fall of 2000. – Christie
Meet my daughter, Loula Belle. Four years old and a fount of knowledge. The other day she was reciting a list of all the facts and tidbits she has memorized. One plus one is two. If you mix yellow paint with blue you get green. Penguins can’t fly. . . . On and on she went.
Finally, she finished. "Mom," she said, looking very smug, "I know everything."
I let on as if I believed her, but chuckled to myself thinking of all the this and thats that a four-year-old child couldn’t possible know. Comparing her four years to my almost three decades of life experiences, I felt sure I knew what she knew and then some.
Within a week, I’d learn I was wrong.
It all began as we were standing in front of the bathroom mirror, me fixing Amanda’s fine, blonde hair. I was putting in the final elastic of a spunky pair of pony tails and finished with, "I love you, Lou."
"And, I love you," she replied.
"Oh, yeah," I taunted, "well I love you more."
Her eyes lit up as she recognized the cue for the start of another "I love you more" match. "Nuh-uh," she laughed, "I love you the most."
"I love you bigger than a volcano!" I countered – a favorite family phrase in these battles of love.
"But mom, I love you from here to China." A country she’s learning about thanks to our new neighbors up the street.
We volleyed back and forth a few favorite lines. I love you more than peanut butter. . . . Well, I love you more than television. . . . I even love you more than bubble gum.
It was my turn again, and I made the move that usually brings victory. "Too bad chickadee. I love you bigger than the universe!" On this day, however, Loula Belle was not going to give up. I could see she was thinking.
"Mom," she said in a quiet voice, "I love you more than myself."
I stopped. Dumbfounded. Overwhelmed by her sincerity.
Here I thought that I knew more than she did. I thought I knew at least everything that she knew. But I didn’t know this.
My four-year-old daughter knows more about love than her twenty-eight-year-old mom. And somehow she loves me more than herself.