Love Is….How many of you recognize that familiar cartoon? I remember them from the Sunday newspaper when I was a child and like so many other girls my age, I cut them out each week and saved them in a binder. I drew them all over every school note-book I owned and plastered the posters up on my bedroom walls. I don’t know why, but I think it might have been that they spoke to the innocence of the times and the childish notions of what Love really is.
Just recently because of some personal events in my life I found myself pondering that age-old question again, about what Love Is. It is the one thing we all as human beings desire yet most of us really have no clue what we are looking for so we will let others try to define it for us.
Our first introduction to “love” comes from our mothers. For many of us it comes in the form of felling safe. We equate the fact that she fills all our needs with “loving” us, but is that really love? It would depend on her own belief in what Love Is. For some mothers its nothing more than a feeling of responsibility that drives her to care for her child, so is that love?
For many of us our next introduction to love come from our fathers in the form of feeling protected. As a little girl I always thought my father was a giant of a man. Not physically but he was this person who made me feel pretty even when the boys were telling me I had “cooties”. For little boys I imagine it must be a feeling of strength and power, but again is that really love? Again it would depend on his own belief in what Love Is. For some fathers it’s nothing more than a feeling of expectation that drives him to care for his child, so is that love?
So our beginning building block for understanding love are responsibility and expectation and it’s those things we take with us as we grow that we will apply to all the other encounters we have as we seek love. We learn to love a pet, love a best friend, love a sibling, and we begin to understand the depth of love in our lives. But each of these also introduces us to a different view of what Love Is. We love our pet because we care for all its needs and that makes us smile, or fills a void. We love a best friend so that we are not lonely, or we can feel accepted. We love our siblings because we are taught they are “family” and it’s what families do. But are any of these emotions really love or are we really just filling personal needs?
By the time we reach that age when the opposite sex hits our radar most of us have experienced what we believe is love in many different ways, but it isn’t until then that we actually start to examine what “love” is to us. Depending on the experiences we have had up to that point, defining love is as different for each of us now as the blades of grass in your front lawn, yet now society steps in and hands us a “check list” of expectation that tells us what love should be and trying to justify our own beliefs with that check list can be a difficult task.
When that special someone enters our lives it is like the clash of the titans when it comes to love. Each of us is bringing predefined notions and trying to find that middle ground. More times than not it doesn’t work simply because we really are not willing to compromise or accept their ideas of what Love Is because to do so means we have to risk our own ideas. So we end up lying to ourselves and others just so we can say we are in love.
Then by some magical force of nature we find that one person we think we love and we build a life with them. Blending our notions and beliefs with theirs until we both find common ground. but have we really found “love” or have we just learned to compromise much the way our own parents did.
Our final introduction to love is that feeling we have when we decide to have children. For most of us whether it is a planned event or one that takes us by surprise we as mothers all find ourselves at that moment when we see that child for the first time and we are overwhelmed with a jumble of emotions. Anger, pain, fear, joy, relief, protectiveness, confusion, trepidation, success, desire, obligation, responsibility and laughter all at war with one another in the blink of an eye, yet “love” is none of these so how do we equate it as all of these at once?
Love is….the most confusing and elusive emotion a human can feel, yet it is the one we want most and the one that is easiest to convince ourselves to feel.
For me personally, I have given up the hunt for love because for me Love Is…unjustifiable, undependable, unpredictable and undefinable but it is the one thing that I never say without meaning it with all my heart. To do any less than that would be dishonest so I take it one day at a time.