Hands Down

“I love you.”

I say it all day long. No joke.

I tell my kids (who sometimes mumble it back and sometimes speak clearly).

I whisper it into my dogs’ ears while they lick my face and I try not to think about where their tongues have been.

I text it to Bill if he’s not home, and I’ve made typos often enough that the phone now auto-corrects to I love youm.

I leave comments on posts of friends I adore:

I love this story about your potty-training fail. And I love you. Let me know where to send pull-ups and wine. (Not necessarily in that order.)

No one’s surprised to hear me admit I love my dogs and kids and husband. Of course I do.

And yes, I love posts that remind me of the bright side to mothering older kids (acne sucks, but pull-ups suck harder!)

I love my friends. A lot. My extended family. A lot. I love writing and reading and sleeping. (Holy crap, do I love sleeping!)

And running (when it’s not too hot). And eating food (even when it is).

I love the ocean waves and music. Evenness. Asymmetry. Peace. I love learning and also being mindless. I love working hard and succumbing to laziness. I love success and—as a hopelessly cock-eyed optimist—I try to love failure for the lessons it teaches me.

But I know—like many of us—I throw those three words around too lightly. I say them without thinking. When I’m not being purposeful.

And I don’t think that’s awful. Of course it’s not awful. I mean, who in her right mind doesn’t want more love?

A wise man once said What the world needs now is love sweet love; it’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.

(Forgive the ending preposition. It was Hal David’s idea.)


I think all of us—at least sometimes, or perhaps even more often than sometimes—should take a moment to truly mean what we say.

To give as much thought and emotion and intention to I LOVE YOU as we give breath.

I want every single person I love to know that’s how I feel. I hope they do. (My hopes are so high!)

And to the man who promised to stick with me forever—the man who has in fact stuck with me so far, for better or worse:

I hope I’ve succeeded in not just telling my love but showing it. And I hope you believe you’re my favorite. Hands down.

I meant it.

I mean it.

I do.

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36 thoughts on “Hands Down

  1. My sophomore year of high school, my mother got into a near-fatal car accident. I remember details of the afternoon very vividly . . . a note from my neighbor that my mother had been called into the hospital (not out of the ordinary, though I should have noted that she didn’t say “to work”), and then my neighbor calling to see what kind of pizza we wanted (this was out of the ordinary, when my mother had to work, we typically just took care of dinner on our own).

    Being a nurse, my mother was able to talk those in charge at the hospital into letting her come home — she had a broken sternum and several facial contusions, but nothing life-threatening. Apparently, in the morning, my mother, my sister, & I were fighting (to this day, I have absolutely no recollection about what we may have been arguing, but it’s entirely possible it was about breakfast cereal), and, cliche as it sounds, she couldn’t get the thought that she didn’t say “I love you” when I left the house out of her mind.

    So, from that point, we make sure we say “I love you,” even when we’re angry with each other. We say it often.

    And, of course, that’s moved to other areas of my life. I’m quick with an I love you — because, well, love is all you need.

  2. I have a confession. I realized a few months ago that I don’t say I love you. I don’t say it to my girls (my biggest shame) but if they say it, I’ll surely say it back. I used to say it. When did I stop? Because I could say it to the boy, at 2, all day long. Is it because he’s younger, more open, easier to relate to (Ha! I’m relating better to a 2 yr old than to my husband)? I don’t know when it stopped, but I know I made a conscious effort to say it daily. I want them to KNOW it. I want them to HEAR it. I want them to FEEL it. So while yeah you may feel like you’re saying it too often, I can’t fault you. At least you’re saying it.

  3. OpinionsToGo

    A truly lovely post about love. I don’t think you left out a single thing. The world is definitely a better place because of you.

  4. I love you too! 🙂

    And I’m the same way to my kids and my husband. We don’t have a dog.

  5. Nikki

    We say I love you alot too in our household. And while I mean it every time there is a distinct difference between a simple, “Love you” as your walking out the door and having your two year old look at you right in the middle of Toy Story and saying, “I wub you, Mommy”. That “I love you” melts you from the inside out. That “I love you” is everlasting.

  6. I love you.

    I say that with purpose and conviction and certainty.

  7. Suzie

    Happy Anniversary to a couple that I love very much (truly)! I will remember August 17, 1996 forever – it was an incredible day!

  8. Kir

    I LOVE YOU JULIE. I do…and like you I say it all day long. I say it to friends and family,I say it when I get on the phone and off the phone, I yell it and whisper it and make sure the people KNOW without a doubt that I love them…even in their weak moments, even when i don’t want to…I LOVE them.

    I get this…and I love you for writing it …

    plus, I LOVE you and Arneyba ….I SIMPLY LOOOOVEEE THAT GIRL.

  9. I am pretty sure this post explains why so many people love you. I’m on the fence, but that is just because I’m not very affectionate. I don’t think I was breast fed.

    Happy Anniversary!

  10. Di

    I love that you love as deeply and as sincerely as you do. Happiest of anniversaries to both of you today…Ah sixteen years ago…I remember this day fondly. XXXOOO

  11. Although I’m out of the commenting groove, I had to comment at this one. I was raised in a family that said I LOVE YOU all the time. And we hugged. We’re huggers. But I felt the love all the time, and I knew that every time they said it, they meant it. I dont’ think I LOVE YOU is a bad thing even if you don’t mean it….even saying the word love has a positive, uplifting feeling. So keep saying it….and especially to your dear one….and Julie, I love youm.

  12. Courtney

    I really associate “16 years” with the young driver in my near [(your nearer :)] future… amazing how much love we have in our lives and how the years truly strengthen that bond of love and respect – I love and miss you. See you soon??

  13. Babe came from an I love you family, I did not. He still tells his parents it every time they hang up and I can’t really remember the last time I told my Mom. I say to my children as often because really can it hurt. I make sure to make eye contact at least once each day when I say it so they know I mean it. I love that. I love this post. I love you. I love that the www gave me the chance to say alllll those things in one small box.

  14. I love you, too. And I think we all know you mean it. My husband is a stickler for telling me I say it too much as well, when he feels I’m just doing it because it’s habit. I’m going to show him this post, in a way to back me up since I do truly mean it. 😉

  15. Right back at ya with all that’s left of my heart (currently being ripped out and resewn by my children.)
    And yes to more conviction, purpose and certainty.

  16. Wonderful post!

  17. I’m the same as Jamie….we don’t say a lot of it out loud in my family, but my husband’s family does. I say it all the time to my kids….it’s easier than to the adults. Although, if I don’t say it to my husband at night, or say it with attitude because he *just* did something annoying, he gets offended. Ha! I always mean it, though. Happy anniversary, you lovebirds.

  18. What a beautiful love letter to your husband.

    And pssst – I love you too!

  19. –I love that you say “I Love You” all the time…

    I do, too.

    I just Love love love!
    ….And I’m not afraid to say it!

    I tell my boys before they leave the house– and I usually tell people before I hang up the phone “Love Yooooou.”

    btw, those are the last words my sister, Kay, ever said to me.

    We were on the phone and I said I’ll order the tickets for “Sex and the City”
    and she said “Okay, I’ll pay you for mine tomorrow. I love you.”

    “Remember, we need to be at the theater by 5:30. Love you.”


    Xxxx Kiss for you, Julie.

  20. I say it to my kids so much that, at two, they are already rolling their eyes at me.
    Happy anniversary!

  21. Mommakiss

    Oh my friend, I know all too well that if you feel it, you say it.

    This is a lovely letter to your dear lovely lover. Love it.

  22. I grew up not hearing it, but definitely feeling it. Consequently, we didn’t hug either.

    I still feel uncomfortable saying it to my family.

    But we say it ALL THE TIME in our little family. ALL THE TIME.

    We hug a lot here too.

    Happy anniversary to someone I bet gives great hugs.

    Also? I love you, friend.

  23. I tell my husband and kiddo that I love them every day. And I know they <3 me back.

  24. What a lovely post that reminds us of the power and importance of saying “I love you.” I try to say it multiple times a day, but sometimes in bouts of anger that is hard – if not impossible! Love your insightful, meaningful posts. Such a gift. Thank you again.

  25. Can I say I love you and have you know I mean it? I hope that’s the case.

    Also, I was glancing down at the end of the post and thought, “HOLY SHIT, is that a sonogram? IS SHE PREGNANT? IS THAT WHAT THIS WHOLE LOVE THING IS ABOUT?”

    Anyway, wine and Skype sometime soon, yes?

  26. Julie.

    Normally, I don’t cry when I read blogs.

    I don’t.


    I know we both have these things going on that make us keep missing each other.

    And I’m telling you right here: I’m going through a rough patch. And I’m scared.

    I’m so grateful for knowing the cyber you. And I hope whatever challenges you face, that you end up in calmer waters.

    And for sure, you so have to know. ..

    You are loved. Adored. Worshipped. Cherished. With conviction. And deliberateness.

    We will catch up soon, eh?

    I hope the anniversary was lovely.

  27. Happy Anniversary! Whether you say it too much, on the regular, or hardly at all. I’d bet my hat you’re the sort who shows it every minute.

  28. There can never be too much love in the world.

  29. I think you’re right. We’re a hyperbolic culture.

    side note: you make me feel boring when you add cool music. Damn you.

  30. I LOVE THIS POST! (And I LOVE YOU JULIE!) But… did you say that you love wine? I think you may have forgotten that! (I know that I love drinking wine with you. And reading your words. And… just… YOU! Oh wait, I said that already!)


  31. I throw that word around, too, but I think that’s all right. Most people know what we mean, and I’d be surprised if my friends and family ever truly tired of hearing it. However, I’ve paired “I love you” to my boys with telling them with this: “You are my favorite Sebastian” and “You are my favorite Theo.” I tell my husband he is my favorite husband and best friend. I think when we truly love someone as much as our spouse and kids and best girl friends who have been with us through hell and high water, we add other words to it that elevate the “love yous” we say.

  32. Happy Anniversary!

    I use “love” loosely, too. Yet I will probably not stop saying it. My parents are “love” people, so it’s deeply ingrained. My husband’s family is not, but he makes it a point to say it to our kids all the time, and that makes me love (smile) him just a little bit more, if possible.

  33. Well, on that note, I loved the post you did at Kir’s Corner 🙂 Nice to meet you 🙂

    I would rather overly use “I love you” than offer anything negative 🙂 I have no idea how many times I tell my husband that I love him, but it’s a lot. And whenever I speak to my parents on the phone or visit with them, always an “I love you.” Life is precious!

  34. I grew up in a house where those words were rarely spoken. I tell my guys, my parents, and the rest of my family it all the time. I don’t think people can say it too much.

  35. Happy Anniversary!
    This is a beautiful post. Like you, I say “I love you’ so frequently that sometimes I wonder if it is more of a habit than a meaningful expression.
    In other languages there are different words for different types of love; you would say a different phrase for the love of a spouse than that of a child. In our English language, those three words hold so much meaning.
    I love this reminder to say them with conviction.

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