That's the Stuff.
Come to find out, little babies are just little humans. Their personalities all wrapped up and ready to be unleashed, I mean, discovered as they age. Each of my three are incredibly different. No surprise there. But there are also threads that run through all of them. Mainly their sense of humor and propensity for love. Maybe it's nature. Maybe it's nurture. That has never been solved and I am not going to throw my hat into that ring.
So however they come by it, my three KBs love fiercely. I hear "I love you" multiple times a day. Unbidden. Out of the blue. For no reason. To me. Let's be clear, the boys rarely say it to one another. They each will say it to Sweet P, though. I hear it because I say it. I say it to them a dozen times a day. For big things, little things, no things. In a time when physical touch is limited, I ruffle hair more, rub a back more and give more hugs. In this time of absolute cluster fuckery, I have tried to keep my kids grounded and feeling safe with those little moments. Feeling safe and loved can happen in a lot of ways.
Some years ago and, to be honest, I don't remember how or who started it, we would hug with a little back rub and say "that's the stuff". We would repeat the phrase as we held on. It would make us laugh. It would seem silly. It kind of seemed like a joke. Because there was always laughter. But the more I think about it, it'slove. That hug and caress is love and care and being cherished and treasured and seen. And, really, that IS the stuff.