Whenever I see or call my mom, she always acts ecstatic. Even though I’m usually regaling her with something super boring (“I’m ordering Mexican for dinner tonight,” “I’m kind of sleepy today,” “Did you see that it snowed?”), she’s always thrilled to hear every detail. And although I’m 33 years old, it feels reassuring to have someone who is so reliably happy that I exist.

Learning from my mother, now that I have a child of my own, I try to never hide how happy I am to see Toby. Even when I’m buried in emails or writing a post, I always look up with a huge grin and eyes twinkling when Toby walks in the door. Even when I’m sick, busy, tired or stressed, I want him to always know, 100%, that I’m glad he’s there.

Author Toni Morrison shared a similar sentiment on Oprah years ago: “When my children used to walk in the room…I looked at them to see if they had buckled their trousers or if their hair was combed or if their socks were up. You think your affection and your deep love is on display because you’re caring for them. It’s not. When they see you, they see the critical face.” Does your face light up when your child comes into the room? she asked. Because they notice.

Toby, for one, has definitely noticed. He’ll sometimes even come through the door and announce, “Ta da!!!” It makes my heart sing that he believes he’s worthy of such fanfare.

What about you? Have you ever thought about this? Maybe every mother does! It’s one of those little things that feels really important.

P.S. The first time my eyes lit up.

(I wrote a shortened version of this post for SFGirlbyBay; thanks, Victoria)