I’m in love with love. In fact, I’ve always been in love with love. When my parents told me they were getting a divorce I thought, “There’s the death of love.” I wanted to crawl into a hole because my whole belief system had been shattered as surely as if I had in fact died. It was the worst time, too, because I had just begun to believe.
There’s something about being 10 years old that resonates with me, because when I was 10 I was introduced to the death of love. No, it wasn’t the kind of fairy tale love that features a magical kiss, but it was the best kind of love in a kid’s eyes: the solid kind. It was the kind that meant my father was out there working hard for the family, and so was my mom. They were striving separately, but together.
It was only later that I found out they were more separate than I thought, even back when they were maintaining the facade. Perhaps that’s why I was so shocked when they sat us down and told us. It was one of those surreal moments in my life that I look back on and wonder what I was really thinking. I recall thinking I must have been dreaming, that there was no way I was going to become one of “those kids” who spent time at both places but never really knew a home anymore.
Of course it doesn’t always work like that, and it didn’t in our case either. We stayed with my mom, and we discovered the real meaning of love. Love wasn’t pretending you’re happy so that the kids stay happy. Love wasn’t cards and candy on a special day. Love was every single day grinding so that we could have the necessities of life. Love was believing in our potential, and fostering that belief in ourselves. Love was sitting with us when we were sick, making us soup, and reading to us until we fell asleep.
I rediscovered a love that isn’t talked about in fairy tales, a love that had no business being pushed aside for all that romantic nonsense. Because romance isn’t anything unless there is understanding, unless all those basic needs are met, unless we appreciate ourselves for who we are and we let each other know it. Love is in deeds. It’s in the time we spend. It’s all around us if we look up from our own footsteps every once in a while.
I worry about my own children, that they’ll get caught up in the commerciality of love, in the deification of money as a substitute for love that has become pervasive in this society. My wife and I both try to instill in them the intrinsic nature of love, so that they can love themselves and love others as well. We fret about it, for sure, but we want to make sure they feel it from us every single second of every single day, even when they do something wrong. We never stop loving them, even when it turns to tough love.
I’m in love with love. Not the frills that characterize love today, but in the bare bones love that my mother showed me when I was 10 and adrift on a sea of shattered beliefs. And the love that she still shows me every single day, the same love that I strive to show to my own little family every single day. I hope it shows.