I thought I knew love. I love my husband. We’ve been together nearly 11 years. We have seen each other sick, hungover, crabby, sleep-deprived, sweaty, and stinky. We’ve witnessed some gross habits, and we’ve put up with each other’s annoying quirks. And yet, we still pick each other every single day, even when we fight or drive the other crazy, because we also share all the most important values, even if we don’t necessarily agree on every little thing in life. We can make each other laugh until we cry. We support each other’s dreams, and we do whatever we can to make it happen. We chose this love. And it’s not perfect, but it’s real, and it’s something that grows each day. I know love. I know what it feels like in the depths of my soul.
But I was wrong. That love? It’s awesome, but it didn’t prepare me. It didn’t prepare me for the soul-crushing love I would feel for my kid. It’s not that I love my kid more, it’s just so much more intense. It’s possibly because I feel a fierce need to protect him — to protect him from the bad parts of the world and to protect his innocence and preserve it for as long as possible, because even as he grows, he is so helpless is so many ways and needs me in order to grow and learn.
Yes, my love for my husband is deep, but my love for my kid? Well, I feel it to the depths of my soul times a million. Maybe because I grew him inside of me and witnessed his very first breath, I feel it deeper, like he’s a part of my heart walking (er, crawling) around on the outside. It makes it feel like a love so strong it hurts, like my heart will burst because I love this kid so much.
Maybe it’s because as he grows, I’m seeing the world through his eyes. I’m seeing the world full of wonder and curiosity. I’m reminded of all the good we so often overlook. I’m remembering to smile at others rather than scowl. He’s bringing out a more loving and vulnerable side in me, which makes me love him.
Maybe it’s because he looks at me like I’m the best thing ever. Even when I’m in pajamas and my hair is a mess and I’ve got morning breath, he hardly cares. He cares that I play peek-a-boo, or that I tickle his little belly while he laughs and laughs, or that I hold him close and snuggle him until he falls asleep. It’s those moments that make me feel like, regardless of what else I do in life, I’m doing something right. I’m loving this kid with all I’ve got.
Maybe it’s because as we get older, love gets complicated. We worry about things like mortgages, jobs, eating the right foods to keep us healthy, and getting enough sleep and exercise. All those stresses wear us down. They can make us crabby and don’t bring out the best versions of ourselves. Often we take them out on our significant others, simply because they are there or simply because they say something meant to be innocuous that makes us feel defensive. So even though romantic love is wonderful and thrilling, it can often get bogged down time to time because of a million outside forces.
But love for my kid? Well, for now, it’s simple. I realize as he gets older and more involved in the world, it will get complicated. He will argue. He will be stubborn. He will misbehave. But for now, it’s simple (at least most of the time). He is full of hugs and kisses and snuggles. He is giggles and fun. He crawls to me the moment he sees me, even after a short time away. And then I feel it all over again — that heart-bursting love, that “I’ll do anything to protect this kid” feeling. That part will never change. I’ll always protect him. I’ll always feel such love for him because I truly believe he’s a little bit of me and a little bit of my husband, and that makes him the very best combination ever.
Yes, there will come a day when he will drive me just as crazy as my husband does. And that’s a good thing, I think. It means even if they drive you crazy, you still choose love over everything else. You love them despite their flaws and quirks. All I know for sure is the moment I laid eyes on him, my world was rocked. It was turned upside down in the best way possible. I knew one thing for certain: I was made to love this kid. Even if he upsets me, frustrates me, or annoys me, I’ll love him.
I’ll love this kid with all I’ve got for as long as I’ve got. He’s teaching me one day at a time that the very best love is the unconditional love that keeps growing long after conditions try to make you feel otherwise.