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Ask anyone if I love my family. What would they say? I guess it depends on who you ask.

Some people will tell you that love means treating the person you love with respect. Some will say love means paying attention to the person. Some will say you can tell a person loves you by the sacrifices they make for you. Some will even say you know a person really loves you by whether they are willing to give their life for you.

Nobody I know of will say you can tell a person loves you by how often they say it.

There’s no marital counsilor in the world that won’t say that women probably need to hear it more than men do. That’s not to say that men don’t need to hear those three all important words, “I love you.” However, that same marital counsilor will also remind you that love is in your actions. Not in your words.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.” My dad used to quote that to me. It means that what you’re doing is contradicting what you’re saying. I’ve often heard it said that some parents advise their children with the old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.” However, child psychologists tell us kids learn more by example than they do by advise.

What does this have to do with anything? What does it have to do with love?

I’m starting to wonder if I say it more often than I show it. Ever since we got this computer, and before then when I got the new tablet, I’ve been horribly selfish. I’ve spent hour after hour playing on the tablet and, later, on the computer, instead of doing my chores like a responsible parent and paying the kind of loving attention that parents pay to their kids when they love them.

So, if actions mean more than words, do I really love my family? Or is “I love you” just words I say to try to make them feel better about my lack of attention and responsible action.

I’ve had this conversation with my son, only the words I most frequently hear from him aren’t “I love you,” though I do hear that a lot. Instead, I hear him say, “I’m very sorry,” but I don’t see the changes in his behavior that would suggest to me that he is truly sorry for his actions. Now, I look at my own actions and wonder if the same is true for me.

It’s been said by people I care about that I want all the perks of being a mom and none of the responsibilities. What if that’s true? What if it’s true that I don’t really love my kids? What if all I really love is the idea of being a mom, but not the kids?

I’m not even sure if I love myself all that much. I keep forgetting to do things that would seem to indicate that I care about myself, like brushing my teeth and being kind to myself.

Can you tell I’m depressed? Betcha can.

Please, help me. If you have kids, are you sometimes selfish and/or lazy about taking care of them? How do you know you really love them? If you don’t have kids, how do you know you love yourself? What do you do to keep from getting depressed? I need your story.