And Then I Accidentally Said I Love You

As soon as I saw the Caller ID read the name of my son’s school, I knew that my day would be ruined. Teachers don’t call mid day to tell you that your child is having a great day, or that school is sure your child is a genius. Schools only call with bad news like some other kid stuck his foot in your kid’s lunch. Or worse yet, your kid is sick and you have to come get him even though he was fine 27 minutes ago when you dropped him off. I braced myself for the worst and answered the phone.

“Everything’s fine,” Balthazar’s teacher said. “But he’s complaining about a stomach ache. He says he needs to come home.”

I tried to cover up my disappointment. This was going to be my uninterrupted workday, my day to get things done.

“Sorry,” his teacher said as the wind flew out of my sails.

“No problem,” I said. “I’ll come get him.”

“Bye,” she said.

“Bye,” I said. “ I love you.”

Neither of us said a word.

I started to sweat. My mind fast-forwarded to lunchtime when I would undoubtedly become the laughing stock of the teacher’s lunchroom.

I pictured my son’s high school graduation, when I’d probably still be known as the parent who said, “I love you” to a teacher.

I opened my mouth to say, “I didn’t mean that. I wasn’t paying attention. I’m so used to saying ‘I love you’ to Justin as I hang up that I just said it to you…” But, I didn’t. I said nothing and instead, waited for his teacher to hang up.

Since becoming a parent I’ve accidentally told four different parents at school that I love them, one of whom was a man.

I told a UPS Man I loved him and we weren’t even on his normal route. Not surprisingly, he never came back.

I’ve said I love you to the dry cleaner who sometimes drops our clothing off at my house on his way home to his.

And I’ve changed hair salons at least twice to avoid the humiliation of facing the receptionist, hair washer, or stylist to whom I mistakenly proclaimed my love.

Each and every time I do profess my love to someone I don’t love, I’m left feeling like an embarrassed criminal as if there’s nothing worse that could happen to someone than the potential of being loved by me.

Truthfully, the words I love you had never come easily to me. I’ve proclaimed my love for just a handful of people in my life, my husband and children being three of them.

Prior to dating Justin I told only one other boyfriend I loved him. When I said, “I love you,” he responded by saying, “Cool,” before returning to his full time job of looking at himself in the mirror. The humiliation alone caused me to impose a self-proclaimed embargo on speaking about love. The rejection was just too much and a constant reminder of what I had always suspected, that my love was cool but never something that would be returned.

When I met Justin, I finally had someone to return my mistaken I love you’s. Love, as it turns out, was the first thing I’d been really good at and our I love you’s were never an accident. After a lifetime of thinking I was good at nothing, I turned out to be good at love. I love the daylights out of my family, and I tell them all the time.

And sometimes I tell them so much that I forget who I’m talking to. Then I tell someone I don’t love that I do love them. That’s where the embarrassment sets in.

But as the words I love you came out of my mouth and I feared I’d have to find my son a new school, I realized love is nothing to be embarrassed about. Instead of dreading my son’s parent/teacher conference, I’m going to walk with my head held high. And the next time I see the UPS truck, I just might say I love you on purpose.

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15 thoughts on “And Then I Accidentally Said I Love You

  1. I have the same problem. I once accidentally told my ex “I love you” when we were talking about whose house our son was sleeping at that weekend.


  2. I am notorious for ordering pizza from the man I love because I end every call with ‘love you, bye’. The ones in person are more like ‘I have never loved you more’ said to the teacher who found my phone in the park and ‘I just love you’ to the guy who gave me a 10% discount on furniture even though there was a clearly marked sign saying 10% off that I hadn’t noticed. But those don’t count right?

  3. My husband told his employee he loved her as he was hanging up the other day. I thought it was hilariously awesome, he’s worried he might soon hear from HR.

    Btw – I love you Bad Sandy, you’re the best

  4. Oh jeez this reminded me of the time I told another mom, whom I only met once before, that I loved her. And then she awkwardly said I love you too making it ridiculously uncomfortable because she actually thought about it and said it.

  5. When you say words out of habit, it should help you to realize that it is a habit.

    When you use words that are as powerful as “I love you”, it should be an attempt to convey your feelings. I love my children, and I tell them frequently. I love my wife, and I tell her frequently.

    I do not love the pizza delivery girl, the mailman, or the cable guy. They are convenient to my life. That is all. As a result, I have never told them that I love them.

    Words can convey feelings. Using the words “I love you” indiscriminately, even with loved ones, will cheapen those words. When you say the words “I love you”, it should convey your true feelings. It should come from the heart. If it doesn’t come from the heart, then don’t use those words.

    If you mean “Thank You” or “I appreciate your help”, then say that.

    Never use powerful words lightly or habitually. If you love them, then tell them. If you are grateful, then a “thank you” should suffice.

  6. I can’t say I have the “I love you” probably but I always tell the box office person at the movies, “You, too!” when they say “Enjoy your movie!.” ha

    I just wanted to say that I found your blog via your article “6 Ways Changing My Perspective Helped Stop My Kid’s Tantrums” on I used the reading a book tip this morning to stop a tantrum after an awful, awful morning yesterday and it worked!! Thank you so much! As we left the house for daycare/work my son said, “We had a good day!” seriously. thank you!

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