When I was growing up in the 70s, there was a daily cartoon titled Love Is. Each little vignette featured a black and white drawing of two child-like figures, male and female, who for some reason, were always naked. Rounding out this pen and ink cuteness was a quotation, oozing sentiment. Love is…’living for each other’. Love is…’being able to say you’re sorry’ **. As a young girl, I thought they were the best thing ever.
This morning, I skidded across the kitchen floor in my socks through some Wheatabix that someone forgot to tell me they spilled. I bit my tongue before I could threaten to withhold Christmas presents and I had one of those “Eureka!” moments. This, I realized, this is what love is.
Love is…sitting through Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakuel 35 times and laughing when your children expect you to laugh;
Love is…tucking in your children every night before you go to bed because you have an irrational fear that if you don’t, something bad is going to happen;
Love is….cheerfully contemplating grievous bodily harm toward the one that breaks your child’s heart;
Love is….making realistic Chewbacca noises on the floor because it was the little one’s turn to choose and he picked Star Wars. Again;
Love is….dragging your kids to sports practice, pre-caffeinated, on a Saturday morning;
Love is….finding the recognizable object in a piece of kindergarten art;
Love is….relinquishing (remote) control;
Love is….letting your husband sulk a bit when England loses on penalties. Again;
Love is….enthusiastically doing a Boy Scout cheer, even though it makes you feel all icky inside, like a gawky teenager;
Love is….turning the other way when your child announces that turquoise and red go together well;
Love is….throwing up in the tub so that your kids can use the toilet when the family is playing vomit roulette;
Love is….stopping what you are doing to “come, see!”;
Love is…picking out bits of Lego from the vacuum cleaner;
Love is…crossing your eyes until your brain hurts so your children can learn how to do it too;
Love is…correctly guessing that the off-key whistling is indeed the theme tune to Raiders of the Lost Ark;
Love is…moving into the cold spot when your children snuggle up in bed with you;
Love is…”No, honey, you go and play golf! The kids and I will be just fine!”;
Love is…the realization that you would chew your arm off, 127 Hours Style, if it meant saving your children pain;
Love is…having a pocket full of rubber bands, a bag full of dirty bottle caps, and a purse full of crap because your kids think life is a big treasure hunt (and maybe they’re right);
Love is…getting a little misty when it’s time to retire Goodnight Moon;
Love is…stopping at construction sites so your children can watch. Even when you’re on vacation. In another country;
Love is…. going skiing when you’d rather be on the beach;
Love is…not saying “I told you so”. Or at least not every, single time;
Love is…letting your children make mistakes;
Love is…letting your partner make mistakes;
Love is…letting yourself make mistakes;
Love is…realizing that life and marriage and parenting are messy and sloppy and can’t be defined or limited or summed up in a Hallmark sentiment.
And with that, I am off to wash the Wheatabix off my socks.
**Sappiness apparently pays. According to Wikipedia Kim Casali, the originator of the comic strip, made 4-5 million GBP per year at the height of the strip’s popularity. It still runs today, though it’s drawn and written by someone else. And they have clothes on.