The Subject Is ‘Love’
My editor reminded me that my February column was due, and anticipating my blank stare, said, “Maybe you could write about love or something.”
And I thought, love? Really? Could we narrow that down just a tad? I mean, sure, I love melted cheese, but I don’t know that I could write an entire column about it. Then I remembered that Valentine’s Day is in February, and maybe she was referring to romantic love. And then I remembered I’m married with kids, so there went that idea.
Kidding! Truly, I was. Romantic love does not disappear with marriage any more than children cause gray hairs. It’s all a process of change, of evolution. The stages of love are all different, and sure, some may be more powerful than others, but that doesn’t mean one is necessarily better than another.
For example, when I was a kid, I loved my parents and my siblings. I loved music. I loved to read. I loved those little monogrammed purses with the wooden handles that must have been specific to my small town since no one in my life has any idea what I’m talking about. And I loved real wooden clogs, not the cheap ones with the rubber soles.
As a teenager, the list expanded because my definition of love was expanding. The earlier list was still valid, to varying degrees, but I found I could build on it. For example, I learned that I loved to write. I loved to dance. There were a couple of boys along the way that I thought I loved, and a couple of best friends that I really did. I loved to ride my bike, and I loved gauze shirts. God help me.
And then, there it was—true love. Romantic love. Passionate love. Heart-stopping, sweat-inducing, forever-thinking love. The love most people think about when they think about love. The one kids are taught, through television and books and movies, that they can’t live without. The one that we’re led to believe will make our lives complete. And it even might, for a while. And I love my husband.
But then it changes, again, because it has to, because love is not a fixed object. Because life changes. When I had my children, I experienced a love of which I’d never even conceived—if you’ll pardon the pun. It really is simply impossible to define a parent’s love for a child without having experienced it, so there was never the anticipation. It was more like a slap upside the head, that kind of love. Complete surprise. And I love my kids.
At that point, the romantic love might make a shift, might lose some intensity in order to make room for the partnership part of the love, the through-thick-and-thin part, because kids certainly can bring out the thick and thin. It’s not gone entirely, fortunately, and when it re-emerges every so often, it’s somehow even more intense, despite its inconsistency. And I love that freedom to just be.
As my kids are getting older, my list is expanding yet again. Where I used to love holding them in my arms and rocking them to sleep, I now love tucking them in and having them hug me goodnight. I love it when one of them, without thinking, takes my hand in a parking lot, even though they don’t need to anymore. I love how they can talk to me about their thoughts, hopes, fears, dreams. I love the people they are becoming.
I love matching all the socks in my husband’s sock drawer. I love getting the clothes out of the dryer before they wrinkle. I love listening to my daughter singing through the house, and my son playing the piano. I love having a night of no workouts, no karate and no meetings so we can all have dinner together. I love walking my dog at night, and listening to music that makes me remember my past. I love the details that make up my life.
Huh. Maybe I could write about love after all.
Maggie Lamond Simone is an award-winning writer and mother of two living in Baldwinsville. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.