Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Life is about... love

"Love is like riding or speaking French. If you don't learn it young, it's hard to get the trick of it later."
-Downton Abbey

As a teacher, this really rings true to me. I teach nine- and ten-year-olds, so I spend a lot of time with children at a very formative age. You can always tell the kids who are well-loved from those who suffer from the lack of it. It's something about the eyes. The well-loved children's eyes are bright, confident, eager and innocent. The less-loved children's eyes are veiled, secretive and jaded, as if they've already had enough difficult experiences to last a lifetime.

I always wonder about those kids. I wonder if it's ever too late to be loved and to love in return. Like most things, relationships are harder to learn as you get older. If every child had one loving figure early on in his or her life, the world would be a better place. Fortunately, I think that's true for most children. I just wish it were true for all.

There is nothing more important in life than love. It makes all things full. It fills your home with joy and your work with passion. The more you use it, the more you nurture it, the more it grows. Love is a living, breathing thing that gets stronger the more you feed it.

Like all good things, love also has a dark side. It causes fear: fear that something terrible will happen to your loved ones. The more you love, the more you fear. I saw this firsthand as a teenager with cancer. The next-to-worst thing that could happen to parents happened to mine. Happily, the very worst thing never came about, but I believe having that fear realized changed them for life. This is one of the reasons I balked at having children for awhile. I was afraid that the same thing that happened to my parents would happen to me. I'm still afraid. I check Edwin's breathing every night. I sleep close by. I don't want to go back to work and leave my still-helpless baby without his mother's care.

But despite that fear, I will never regret having had my child. I've seen how much love can grow over a short period of time when a baby is brought into the world. There's the love between mother and child, but there's also the love between father and child, grandparents and child, and all the other family members. When you see your spouse in love with your child, that grows the love between the two of you as well. When you see your parents and parents-in-law in love with your child, that strengthens the love of the whole family. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a utopia of love.

Ultimately, of all the things I've philosophized about in this series, expectationsexperiences, change, love is the thing I most believe life is about. Above all else, love is what gets me up in the morning when Edwin wakes up an hour early, crying. Love is what gets me in front of my laptop, writing, while he takes a nap. Love is what I look forward to all day until my husband comes home.

Truly, in the wise words of the Beatles, "Love is all there is."

(You thought I was going to use "All you need is love" didn't you?)

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