All We Need Is Love?
The concept of Love is fascinating to me.
We “love” so many things, our parents, our kids, our job, The Vampire Diaries, pie, sleep. How is it possible to use that word so freely about so many different things? I actually counted how many times I said the word today and I lost track around 24 (while I was eating guacamole at Rosa Mexicana incidentally).
How can the same word be used for how we feel about our kids and chocolate? I decided to look up the definition of love on Wikipedia, since I don’t have a dictionary anywhere in my house. I was confident it would say something like “wake up people, the word love should only be used when referring to your kids, husband or wife and in most, but certainly not all cases, your parents.”
As defined in Wikipedia: The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure (“I loved that meal”) to intense interpersonal attraction (“I love my wife”). “Love” can also refer specifically to the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love, to the sexual love of eros (cf. Greek words for love), to the emotional closeness of familial love, or to the platonic love that defines friendship, to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love. This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.
We really are forced to use the all purpose love for everything, because none of the other words (like adore, worship, blahblah) really work as well. That sort of cracks my whole notion of what the word love should be reserved for. OK, so here we go, we apparently don’t have a choice but to help our kids navigate the use of the word love. The tricky part for parents then becomes figuring out how to teach them that it could be perfectly acceptable to love the Last Call sale at Nieman Marcus more than their Great Aunt June, without turning them into cold sociopaths. And that seeing Bon Jovi in concert could be described as falling in love for the first time, because it could be.
So is this the root of why we end up at the shrink? We are told to think about what you say because our kids listen to every word. Fair enough. In this case, they hear us throw around the word love all day long about whatever and then we tell them “I love you.” Do my kids think I love them like I love the song “Teenage Dream” by Katy Perry? That’s enough to mess a person up.
Can we be taught how to love from our parents anyway or does it just come from within? Here comes the “oh, poor me” part of the program, but I’m only including this for illustrative purposes because if you know me, you know I’m not an “oh, poor me” kinda gal. When I was a kid, I don’t remember my parents, that’s right plural, telling me they loved me. Honestly, that void didn’t dawn on me until I was a parent and it came so naturally for me to tell my kids that I loved them, that I questioned how it wasn’t instinctual for my parents. You undoubtedly are asking yourself, “How could she possibly know what love is if she wasn’t loved as a child?”
My answer is, I have no idea, but I am confident I do. Maybe I just loved Andy Gibb so much that the whole love thing was crystal clear to me. Maybe my parents showed me love versus tell me. I don’t recall feeling unloved, I just didn’t hear the words “I love you.” Maybe I learned as an adult from my boyfriend who became my husband. Maybe when I looked in the eyes of my little girl for the first time, that was the moment.
I think you know what love feels like before you have children, but I don’t think you know what unconditional love feels like until you have children. Maybe love is an evolutionary process for all of us.
Do you remember shortly after Prince Charles and Diana got engaged, and a reporter asked them if they were “in love”? She gushed “of course.” He replied, “whatever that means.” (Don’t have me committed, I don’t have this memorized, this is only the gist of the exchange.)
People were outraged at him. “Whatever that means”?! He had a fair, young, beautiful virgin for God’s sake! But possibly what he felt for her was love to him. But that doesn’t mean it was love as defined by others. Granted, later on, we found out about Camilla, so that sort of blows my example out of the water. I’m going to choose to believe in my heart that he “loved” Diana, his own way and Camilla was a result of his love evolving.
Before I was blessed with six grubby hands getting smudges all over my house, my father-in-law, my husband and I were talking about raising kids and my father-in-law said it so simply, “just love them.”
That was his only advice.
There are a million books about raising kids and to this day “just love them” rises to the top of my consciousness more than any advice I’ve been given. It’s so fundamental to us all really, to be loved and to know how to love.
As a result, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t tell my kids “I love you.” Clearly, I do this to right the wrong of my parents, but also because I really do so much and want them to know. I hope I am showing them love too (I want to hedge my bets and not have to depend on Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift to be my Andy Gibb).
Kids are just pure love and innocence. They will believe anything we tell them because we are the stars in their world. That’s why we can try to keep their hearts open with our love so they can fill it up on their own throughout their lives. It’s also why we can teach them that it’s perfectly fine if they love ice cream a little more than they love their Great Aunt June (poor June has taken a beating in this article) and it will seem completely understandable to them.
And why we must brainwash them from birth, into knowing how important it is to love the Yankees, Mets, fill in blank of your beloved team.
Or at the very least, it will make a therapist very wealthy one day.
Author: Shari Dabby