A few weeks ago, we had some friends over. As I was cleaning up the dishes, they were in the living room trying to get their kids ready for bed so the kids would fall asleep in the car and easily transition to bed.
At least that’s what my friend had in mind. She thought her husband would help but when he didn’t, she let him have it. They started to bicker and then really argue.
What she didn’t know was that my son could hear her, which is fine with me. I have no intention of painting a pristine picture about what love truly is for my kids.
I didn’t do it as a married woman, and I refuse to do it now even if I am a divorced woman who forces my teenagers to watch romantic comedies with me on the regular.
My son was concerned about their fight and said that he thought they were happy and “in love” so their argument caught him off guard. This opened the door to a wonderful conversation, one I realized I’d never had with my kids.
Yes, it started with painful sighs and my three kids clutching their forehead in their palms, but I’m immune to that behavior and rather enjoy inflicting pain on my kids through my words. So I went on.
I don’t want my kids to think love is glorious all the time. Oh, and the butterflies, the sleepless nights, the feeling that your groin is on fire and your new beloved can do no wrong? Given enough time, that washes out to shore.
And then you are left with something that you have created during all that excitement and newness. You are left with love. And sometimes that means you argue about the broken refrigerator, or the hair in the bathroom sink.
Love is being able to get upset at your partner and tell them exactly how you feel because you feel safe in your relationship and you believe that you can work through the problem.
Love is watching your partner do something that annoys the daylights out of you, and wanting to share a bed with them anyway.
Love is rarely blissful. It makes you dig deep to see the other person’s side. Most of the time we feel strongly that we are right but if you really love someone you try to see things from their perspective. You can be in love and need time away from that person, too.
The biggest thing I want my kids to know about love is that getting love from another person will feel wonderful at times, but it’s not going to save them. It doesn’t make things bright and shiny all the time. And there is always a chance that love will fade. And if it does, and things fall apart with someone they love, they will be okay regardless of how painful it is.
I’m not trying to raise my kids to be bitter or cynical or not believe in love. I just want them to know the whole truth about love.
When I was a teenager, I thought love would conquer all. I thought that when I met “the one” I’d be complete and happy and not have problems. Man, was I disappointed when I realized that wasn’t true. I figured something was wrong with me. After all, I was in love! Why didn’t I feel like a different person?
We’re always talking about how love can be wonderful and blissful and make you want to tap dance on a rooftop, but no one tells you that that part of love is fleeting.
We spend so much time teaching our kids about how relationships should feel good and healthy and they shouldn’t settle for less or compromise their self-worth. And of course, I’m all for that. But, we also need to tell them that love can be messy and challenging and sometimes disappointing.
But I’m going to leave out some other little truths about love that perhaps they don’t need to know quite yet. Let’s face it, sometimes love feels like if you see their dirty socks on the floor one more time, or if they are on their phone while you are trying to get the kids ready for bed you could smother them with a pillow.