What does it mean to love someone? To love my children, my husband, what does that mean? What I thought I knew about love has been stretched. Well at least some days it feels like stretching. Some days it feels more like breaking.
Bringing two children into your home when they’re 16 months old is different in so many ways to birthing one and bringing him home the next day.
You’re supposed to love your children. It’s a given. This life you’ve been entrusted with, this precious bundle of emotions, needs, personality, wants, they look to you for their needs. You meet those needs. They need you more. You give them more. And that give and take gives way to learning each other, knowing each other. 5 years go by and you’ve got feelings you never thought were quite possible. When did it happen? How did it happen? And is that love? That’s what I’ve named it anyway.
But what happens when on that day you bring them home they don’t look to you for their needs? What if they’ve already had a year and a half of life with someone else, having their needs met by that someone? What if they don’t know you’re their mummy? What if you don’t know them at all, all their year and a half developed personalities, likes, dislikes. How do you learn that? How do they learn you? How do you prove you love them, without actually having those feelings that took 5 years to grow last time?
What even is love in that situation?
It has to be more than feelings. It has to be more than these unpredictable, unreliable, fragile moments of hormones flowing through my brain, through my gut that I can actually recognise as “LOVE”.
Because if it’s just that, then that is not enough.
So it has to be more. It is more. It is choosing to love when I don’t feel like it. Not just choosing to say it, although that too. Not choosing to pretend the feelings are there when they’re not. But loving anyway. Loving in spite of the lack of warm and fuzzy. Loving through the hard times.
It’s about being there. It’s about saying “Yes. I. Am. Here” when you wish you weren’t.
It’s about getting them dressed. It’s about feeding them. It’s about reading. It’s about listening. It’s about cleaning up the mess. It’s about playing. It’s about teaching. It’s about saying sorry. It’s about forgiving. It’s about moving on from the bad moments. It’s about celebrating the good ones. It’s about saying “well done”. It’s about saying “never mind”. It’s about cuddling. It’s about kissing. It’s about “there there’s”. It’s about saying “come on, you can do it”.
That is love. Love is messy. Love gets its hands dirty. Love isn’t afraid to fail.
The feelings of love are gorgeous. They make life easier. They make it flow. But they come and go. What I want to give my kids is something more consistent, something less reliant on how I feel on any given day, because that is not enough right now, and it may never be enough.
So I’m choosing to just do it.