This became a source of pain when Griffin was little and refused physical affection. I praise God all the time for the progress Griffin has made. He now accepts my affection and even initiates it with me fairly often.
There's still a difference between Griffin and my other two children. The other two will say, "Mom, can we snuggle?" They seem to crave physical affection and affirming loving words more than Griffin does.
I remember one therapist telling me that Griffin just may not need as much affection as other kids (or me). She suggested that he already feels secure and loved and doesn't need it affirmed as much. That explanation was much more comforting than how my mind was tempted to interpret Griffin's more distant nature.
About a month or two ago, Griffin pretty much stopped saying "I love you." I have no explanation for it. In our family we tell each other "I love you" every single time we part ways, go to bed, and lots of times just because.
Lately when I tell Griffin I love him, he just doesn't respond. Occasionally he'll say, "Thank you." Or if I'm leaving and tell him I love him, he just says, "Bye."
So I've been working on letting Griffin be Griffin. I don't take it personally. We love each other deeply, and I'm not going to require him to say it.
Every night before I go to bed, I make my way into each sleeping child's room. I fix their blankets, snuggle them briefly, and smooch them. It may seem weird to some people, but these are literally some of my favorite moments each day. This is when I marvel at how little and big they are, appreciate how soft they are, and selfishly sneak in a little more snuggle time from them.
I whisper things in their ears, imagining my affirming words being woven into their dreams. You are beautiful. I adore you. You are such a good kid. I have special things I say to each child.
One thing I often whisper to each kid is, "Your mama loves you." It's true. And it's a message I want them to carry always. When the world tells them all sorts of lies, I want their minds to have that message irreversibly seared into them.
A few nights ago when I was making my nightly rounds, I was snuggling a balled up bundle named Griffin. I whispered into his sleeping ear, "Your mama loves you."
That precious boy, who appeared to be completely asleep, spoke to me without opening his eyes. He whispered back, "Your Griffy loves you."
Oh, those words filled up my love tank! That'll last me awhile.
These kids keep me on my toes, and they make me appreciate every wonderful thing about them!