I follow Portraits of America on Facebook, this morning this came up on my newsfeed:
“I’m on my way to see my kids in North Carolina. My life has totally fallen apart in Wisconsin, my husband and I are getting divorced, we’re under a foot of snow up there, and I’m really liking the sun and green grass…and being a mother.”
“What do you like the most about being a mother?”
“The clarity of it. There are no mixed feelings and no second-guessing. So many other kinds of love are messy and confusing, but that love is clear. Even if it isn’t perfect, it’s clear. Maybe it is because it’s so selfless. I don’t have to worry about how I play into it or what I want. It’s all about them.”
“What do you think went wrong with your marriage?”
“I’m not sure. That’s the complicated type of love.”
It really struck me where maybe people, including me, go wrong in relationships. The relationships in our lives that go so right, namely with our children, do so because we never expect, we only want to give. From the moment we find out we’re expecting a child our lives become one of centering on the child’s needs.
We change our diets and lifestyles to give the baby a healthy body.
We go through immense physical pain, in the case of the woman, just to give the child life.
We give up nights of uninterrupted sleep, we clean up sick, shit and blood and mostly we do so happily and still interacting with the child with nothing but love and kindness.
As they grow and slowly become independent, we still continue to serve them. When they’re at school we work to provide for them. When they come home we cook them a meal, wash their clothes, bathe them.
When they become teens, still we continue to give with lifts to parties and helping with homework.
As I think back over the last twenty-three years that I’ve been a parent, I can’t think of any moment that I have expected any of my children to do something for me instead of me doing things for them and because I don’t have an expectation of receiving from them, I only have an expectation of giving to them, there are no deep conflicts. Obviously, there’s the odd spate between us but that soon blows over. The love between myself and my children is clear love. On the whole, I am here to give, to serve and to love them no matter what and they are there to receive that love. As they grow older, they give to me now. In all the little ways that amount to much bigger ways. By setting the table for dinner, clearing up afterwards, by taking the bins out, helping with shopping, babysitting Annie. All of which they do without being asked and without the expectation of anything in return. They’ve received clear love and now they’re starting to give it back.
If I compare that to the love that exists in romantic relationships, for me certainly, it’s very often been about receiving. Don’t we go into relationships because we want love? Straight away, before it’s even happened, we’re much less about giving and much more about receiving or, as is often the case, wanting. It’s when our wants don’t get met, that conflict occurs.
During the date with Michael on Saturday, we talked about how our lives are about our kids. Michael then said about wanting something for himself and I agreed and said I wanted to share evenings with another adult and experience something for me.
We both in a place of want and that’s fine at this stage. After all, don’t we all want to have children before it happens? The turning point needs to be as soon as you have what you want. As soon as the conception of a new relationship takes place, even if that relationship later fails, we need to step into giving and nurturing. We need to stop thinking about how the other person needs to give to us to make us happy, instead, we need to think about what we can do for them to make them happy.
Obviously, this can only work if both people are doing the same thing because one is not the baby/child that needs to be cared for and looked after. Both are adults and so both need to give, not only at the conception of the relationship but throughout until the day it ends, even if that end is seventy years later.
Clear love only becomes complicated love when we go into a place of expectation instead of giving.
I think I will be seeing Michael again, we got on really well, chatted at ease for hours and seem to have quite a bit in common and regardless of whether or not our friendship becomes romantic is irrelevant because it’s an opportunity to have a relationship with another human being which can be about giving, not to receive, but simply to show another human being a level of unconditional love, kindness and compassion just because it’s healthy, it’s good and it’s clear and if he gives me the same in return, then at the very least, we’ll have a very lovely, easy, relaxed, loving friendship.
As the woman above said, “Even if it isn’t perfect, it’s clear. Maybe it is because it’s so selfless. I don’t have to worry about how I play into it or what I want. It’s all about them.” Maybe if we all loved each other exactly like this, we’d all be able to experience clear love in every relationship in our life. Think how happy we’d all be then.