There are a lot of different kinds of love. And unfortunately, right now, I’m probably not about to write about the Love you’d wish I was. Instead, I’m going to talk about the love you have for a child.
The other day, I wrote about selfishness…and how it can affect the construction of relationships, both friendships and love affairs. Frequently, I read my blogs to my father. After having heard that blog, he made the bold statement that being selfish should not be considered to be a bad thing. I had not really wanted to get into it with him, but I thought I’d bite…I proceeded to explain that obviously our definition of selfishness must be different. He stated that selfishness is when you only looked out for yourself. Ok…that is what I said it means. So he said, well why is that a bad thing? Seriously? Oh, I don’t know…maybe because if you have a family that depends on you, then you can’t only look out for yourself, you have to keep their interests in mind everyday.
Then the conversation went into him explaining that if you are getting nothing out of loving someone, then you’re wrong to love them. My eyes bulged out of my head! I also had not known why we were now talking about loving someone (bringing relationships to mind at the time). Since I had used a family as an example, I asked him if he would love a child, who was born incapable of loving anyone, less just because it could not return his love. What if he had a child unable to speak the words, “I love you, daddy” or unable to sense the emotion of gratitude for all of the things that a parent is inherently responsible to give a child (food, shelter, board, etc.)? Would that mean that my father was not receiving sufficient payback for the love he was giving that child?
I won’t bore you with his responses but eventually I just got so pissed off at the conversation as I remembered who I was dealing with, I just ended the conversation completely. Though it did weigh heavily on my mind for days…
Today, for one of my clients, who works with families that have children with learning disabilities, I was forced to reach out to one of their clients with an administrative question. Easy enough…right? Well, not for everyone. The woman answered the phone and was so distraught over the condition of her son, that I realized very quickly that correcting the spelling of her name was not why she thought I called but rather to listen to her vent…which I did, gladly and somehow I found the right words to help her understand her situation more clearly and she ended up being so grateful to me for my advice.
Please understand, I grew up with a brother who had a learning disability and I remembered watching my mother have similar tantrums and so, I chose to spend some time on the phone to better understand this woman’s frustrations as she cried to me…not as an expert…not as an aid to the resolution she has been searching the world for…but just as an ear to listen to her. And what I heard was a woman who loves her child so much but he is probably completely incapable of showing any love back. And I thought, how ironic that this should happen only days after my own father expressed how incapable he is to ever be able to love someone who did not love him back.
I cried for this woman as I remembered how in love with my brother and I my mother was. How I know how she wished she could have thrown herself in front of the truck that almost killed me or had been able to take the stab wounds that almost killed my brother…how she was heard to say, at a time when the doctors were not sure that I was ever going to come out of a coma I had been in for a week at that point, that it would all be ok because if I didn’t wake up, she was just going to kill herself so she and I could be together again.
I have a mental image of my mother that I took of her shortly before she died. It was at a time when I was sitting at her dining room table, trying to make sense of this Finance class I was taking in my graduate program which my mother had forced me not to take time away from while she was sick…me always multitasking…promising I’d play cards with her once I was done with my homework, which she made sure I finished first. She was sitting in the living room, reading her book and I looked over at her, and she had put her book down to just watch me with a look of utter pride on her face. She never cared exactly what I did with my life…just that I was successful at it…and that it was legal.
She knew she was going to be leaving me alone within a few months at that point and the look on her face told me that she knew that I was going to be just fine. Life was going to be tough, like that damn Finance homework…but she knew that eventually I would have it all figured out. She looked at me as being a job well done…knowing that whatever pieces still needed fixing, she knew I’d figure them all out. How even though she may have left me alone during some tough spots in my life in an effort to teach me how to get back on the horse alone…she knew at that moment that all the days she sacrificed with me in order to teach me some lesson…had all paid off.
So, Love? That is what I’ve always considered to be unconditional love…my whole life. The love that mothers are meant to have for their children…all of them, the ones that are not beautiful and smart and tall with great skin…the children that only a mother can love. And while I may not have the children to show that same type of love to…because of my mother, I learned how to receive that type of love and nothing less.
So here is to the women who sacrifice themselves completely for the love that they have for their children. Thank you for showing us how much we can mean to someone else and thank you for showing us how amazing you thought we were. And while I may have been spoiled in that department, I do know that no one will ever love me the way my mother did.