My youngest son, now 10 months, was stripped to his diaper in the half-dark the other night, perched on his changing table. It was one of those moments where I couldn’t get enough of that cheery smile, the softest skin, and hugging that body built like a little sack of concrete. I kissed his shoulders, talked in his ear, nuzzled his neck, and tickled under his arms, occasionally eeking out of him the baby belly laugh I adore.

“Do you know how much I love you? Do you?!” The words we’ve all murmured in tiny ears. I was overcome, gushing with overwhelmed affection for the little guy.

Then I thought, Why is it that I’m so crazy about him? It’s amazing considering that in all reality, he gives very little to me right now other than just being so stinkin’ cute. The smiles are great, and I can hardly restrain layering kisses all over that chunka-monka. But truth is, babies (surprise) take a lot more than they give, especially at first. He certainly doesn’t give sleep or his own personal hygiene. Obviously, he doesn’t give time or money!

I pretty much love him because he’s himself. And because he’s mine.

And I thought, Wow. That’s gotta be a little of how God loves me.

God says that we love because He loved us first. And isn’t that motherhood?! Don’t we love our kids first: feeding them around the clock, changing, burping, dressing, getting checkups, and researching how to be a better mom? And even in those first months — even in pregnancy, when we’re literally sick and tired — before they give smiles or coos or any kind of response, we love loving them.

I imagine it’s no coincidence that we all start out this way: needing everything and giving little more than just being ourselves. And we now know that the care we receive at this time, when we can’t reciprocate, lays the foundation for healthy attachment in our future relationships. As parents, it’s still a rich, deeply fulfilling experience for us to give and give to these little people: our sleep, our bodies, our health, our money, and our love. We watch as they blossom beneath that love, unfolding to reveal the children we love to get to know. I bet God loves doing the same for us.

God loves me just because I’m me and just because I’m His.

Worth gushing about, I think.