The Love of a Four-Year-Old Is the Greatest Love You Will Ever Know

toddlers love momsI have many people in my life who love me. We all do. Partners, spouses, children, parents, siblings, friends. But as much as I do have people who love me, no one will ever love me like my own children did before they turned 5 years old and realized I was in charge of who gets to eat a second Popsicle in a day. 

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I'm a lucky girl. I have amazingly wonderful kids who love me, a husband who tells me how much I mean to him on the reg, a mom who still believes that at age 45 I could haul my overweight, frumpy, stretch-marked and mom-haired self to NYC and become a top-grossing supermodel if I just decided to, and friends who let me tell them all about how much laundry I folded and act interested about it.

I'm lucky.

But none of us will ever be as lucky as we are when we know the love of a 4-year-old, this unconditional, all-consuming, desperate love that a kid who has yet to figure out how mean and boring we are feels toward us. It's the sort of love only you who also have 4-year-olds will ever understand. 

More from The Stir: 10 Kids Tell Us What Being In Love Looks Like 

Babies and toddlers love their parents, of course. You see it when you enter a room and their face lights up in this gummy, drooly, toothless smile or when your toddler holds their chubby little arms open for you to pick them up. Your older kids love you too, when they are almost too cool for Mom and Dad, when they let you kiss them on the forehead before they storm up to their rooms to text their little friends about how one of their other little friends is acting like a dork. But it's this 4-year-old love that's the kicker, and no flame in the heart of a kid this age will ever burn as bright for you, no matter what other love you encounter in your life. 

Your 4-year-old waits for you outside the bathroom, holding their breath until they knock on the door to tell you they miss you, even though you have been away from them the length of time it takes you to pull down your yoga pants. 

Your 4-year-old loves you with a love that is passionate and frightening, like my own daughter who once exclaimed in response to my telling her I love her: "I love you so much I want to eat all your bones." 

Your 4-year-old is your entourage; they will follow you from room to room as you wield a Swiffer, your dusting the most interesting thing they have seen all day. Only a 4-year-old will act like they won the lottery when you ask them to help you match socks together from the laundry basket. Only a 4-year-old will decide that it's you they want to marry when they grow up. 

It's the 4-year-old who will act bereft and betrayed when you leave them with a babysitter, when you go to sleep in your own bed without them. On more nights than not you will wake to feel this interloper next to you, their tiny body entwined with yours and a fistful of your hair in their grip as they inhale your shampoo like oxygen. 

The 4-year-old sculpts your effigy in Play-Doh; you are the subject of their crayon portraits, the theme of a thousand made-up arias as they knock down their block houses brick by brick. They really love your macaroni, your knock-knock jokes, the most beautiful color of lipstick you wear that makes you look just like the princess in their favorite movie. Who else wants to hear you tell the same bedtime story over and over again just to hear your voice? 

You won't get that kinda adoration from a 10-year-old.

Most kids start to develop their own little identities after age five; they become fascinated with friends and peers and their own realities. They will still love you, of course, but it's just not the same. I miss that love, that crazy, all-consuming, I-hung-the-moon-and-orchestrated-the-stars love. Anyone got a 4-year-old I could borrow? 

 

Image © iStock.com/Gabor Iszo

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