My 5-year-old daughter, Vivvi, loves love. Everyone in the house, including Viv, tries to deny it. Wally, her older brother, lists as one of his favorite things about her: that she pretends to be dark. A few months ago, some minor drama had caused me to give her a life lesson teaching, telling her we all stand for something and all of her decisions have to be based on what she stands for. So what does she stand for? Her high bubble munchkin voice interrupted, “I stand for death and darkness!”

And yet, the truth is, she loves love. God didn’t hear my prayer when I said that if he was going to give me a girl, she had better not be a girlie one. She loves heels and makeup, two things that are absent in our house aside from in her closet. She recently discovered my old Bath and Body Works body spray and now keeps it on her shelf, spraying one dab on her wrists whenever she gets dressed. And she loves love.

This has been a lifelong problem for her. Last year she asked husband Wally and I about our wedding. “Can you show me how you got married?” We faced each other and did the abbreviated summary, “With this ring, yada yada, til death do us part, yada yada, solemnly swear and forever hold your peace so help you God, etc. etc. etc.” She watched, enraptured. “Now kiss!” she urged, her eyes a blinky, cartoon-y, wistful puddle of love.

I told a friend about this scene, rolling my eyes and saying we are in trouble. She stopped me mid-sentence. “Awww. She’s a romantic!” I started to see it in this better light.

She does not fall in love with boys, like I did at her age. (My preschool report card says things like, “Mollie finally talked to a girl today!” Since four I was a horrible flirt, making up songs about the boys I was in love with, to the point where I could rattle off their names to you to this day.) In fact, only recently did she have her first crush—Zac Efron in The Greatest Showman. “Because you think he’s handsome?” I asked.

She got embarrassed. “Mom, I don’t like that word,” she said. Then she thought for a minute and said, with a flush, “I like his face.” I get it, girl.

But hers is more pure and innocent and beautiful than crushes. Hers is truly just a love of love.


She loves all kinds of love. Friend love, puppy love (the literal kind), mom and dad and brother love. The idea of a far-away-in-the-future love. She was curious about my wedding and engagement rings and inquired to how I got them. I told her they come with a proposal. She thought about it for a few minutes and said, “So when I’m older and someone wants to marry me, they’ll give me a ring?”

“Yep!” I replied.

“And if I don’t want to marry him, I’ll just say, ‘No thank you’,” she finished. Yes, Viv. If you get yourself in that situation, I’m sure that’s exactly how it will go.

The other day, we visited our neighbor friends for dinner so we could meet one of their friends from back home. We got to know her while the kids played, and Viv would occasionally stop at the table for a quick conversation before darting off to play. When it was time to go, we were giving hugs all around, and Viv got picked up by the visiting friend for a big, loving hug. Viv hugged back, made eye contact with the friend, hugged, repeat repeat repeat, and each time she made eye contact I could see her eyes filling and filling, her head seeming dizzier and dizzier. “Is she okay?” Our new friend seemed to ask. “She’s fine,” I reassured. “She’s just drunk on love.”

We need this in our house. We are busy, we are thinking of our to-do lists, we are thinking of the future. We are checking our phones. We are thinking of our burdens, our worries, our scarcity—scarcity of time, of energy, of brain power. We are go-go-going, and love demands a stop. A full stop. When we stop, we soften. Because love demands a presence, a here and now. Love demands us to live fuller. To live bigger. Love demands us, when we stop for it, to connect, to look at each other and let our eyes fill up on that love.

Last week after a workout, I went to pick up Vivvi from childcare. Usually this process involves me saying, “Hurry, hurry. Get your coat, get your shoes, we have to go to the next thing. Let’s go.” Usually she hands me something she drew that I will transfer home and then straight into the trash from the car. But recently she learned to write words, and that has opened up for me what she is trying to say with these papers, these endless papers. She handed me her drawing and started getting on her shoes. I read it and “hurry up, let’s go,” was the last thing on my mind. I gave her a hug. I decided to keep the picture forever.


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