One of our dear sister-bloggers is despairing over at her place and I wish there was something I could tell her. Something I could write and say to reassure her that her dreams will one day come true because they are such good dreams, so obtainable. Her dreams of having a life with someone, having children, a family, simple dreams that most of us have.
Not all. But many.
Someone to love and be loved by.
Something she said struck a chord in me because she said that everyone says you can't really know what love is until you have a child of your own but I don't think that's true. I don't think you can know what THAT sort of love is unless you have a child, but there are so many kinds of love.
I was watching my husband with our daughters and it hit me so very hard that I'll never know either what it feels like to know a father's unconditional love or what's like to unconditionally love a child from the father's side of the equation. I have a feeling it's different than the love a mother feels, just as it so very different to know a mother's love from a father's. And I also believe very strongly that a child, whether a boy or a girl, who has a loving father whether born-to or raised-by, has something so precious that it is one true gift I wish I'd received but did not.
I can't even bear the thought of a child who grows up without a mother's love, even a vastly imperfect one (and what mother loves her children perfectly, no matter the silent vows she takes when she first holds her child in her arms?) I know that my mother tried and although our relationship has been damaged and frayed by so many things, I do know somewhere that she loves me. I do know that. I was thinking the other day how they say that sometimes as people are dying, they cry out for their mothers, even if the mother is long dead, and how I can't even imagine that. I know my mother was with me once when I had one of my babies and it never occurred to me to ask her for help. But she would want to have helped if she could have. I am sure of that.
I have, of course, known and do know, of a mate's love. A lover's love. A partner's love. Through all stages up to the one I'm in with mine. The initial lust and testing and fact-finding and trying out all the parts to see if they fit, not just the obvious ones but the small but oh-so-important ones- beliefs, for example and how this person sleeps and what they like to eat and what they expect from a mate and whether or not they want children and theories as to how those children should be raised, as compared to the other person's. That lust-stage can get you through a lot of differences but when the fire settles down to glowing embers, that other stuff becomes so very important. So important that too many differences can dash water all over the embers so that they die and then what the hell is left?
Ah. Not much.
But when it's good, when the parts fit and the beliefs mesh and the theories can adjust themselves as reality pokes its head out of the egg of the fantasy and when two people want so badly to live up to the promises they made, well then...what amazing comfort, what an amazing thing to have someone with you whom you know almost as well as yourself who despite age and change, welcomes you into their arms over and over and over again.
And then the grandparent love- well. That's certainly one that I never expected and never had a clue about until I turned fifty-four and Owen was born and that's a sort of love that is so shining, so easy that it would seem to be a heavenly reward for living long enough to know it.
There is the love of siblings for each other. Sometimes. And when it is strong and true, blood IS thicker than water and if laughter is involved, and the knowing that there is always someone who knows you to your core and will always love you- well. That's got to be one of the best kinds of love.
The love of a person for the beloved children of sisters and brothers. That love is so very special because you don't HAVE to love your nieces and nephews. It's quite acceptable to be sort of a stranger, in fact. But blessed is the child who receives this love because there is the knowledge that Auntie or Uncle isn't required to love him or her but does! Which means that the child must know, must feel most strongly, they they are deserving of love.
Same for the love of a friend's child. My children have been blessed with the love of friends of mine who would give them a kidney as quickly as I would. A kidney, a party, a music lesson, encouragement, furniture, time- all things that say, "I cherish you," and thus, the child knows that he or she is worth cherishing.
No strings attached. Just so.
And then, of course, there is the love of a friend for a friend. That real love which isn't based on who works where or what this person can do for another. Just that recognition of hearts, coming along sometimes at the oddest, most unexpected times. A shared laugh when no one else gets the joke, an ease, a heart's ease, a soul's ease in their presence. Oh. I have known this love. And I do.
But their are other types of loves I'll never know. The love soldiers seem to find in each other in battle when they must, by definition, entrust their lives with each other and that trust is rewarded with unimagined grace and the shared experience bonds like nothing else- or so I've heard. I'll never know.
The love of people who create together. That's another sort of love.
The love of people who share some core value or shared religious-belief, I suppose, although I distrust this one. But I know it must be true for some.
So what I guess I am saying here is that no one who has ever loved another in any way can be told that he or she doesn't know what love is. That there are so many different sorts of love. Some perhaps 95% (at least) biological. Some having nothing to do with biology at all.
I don't even have a definition of love which I suppose makes everything I've said suspect. I doubt that even science will ever come up with a good definition. Or religion or philosophy either.
But Lord, humans have spent a lot of time trying to define it, to make it into a science. Match.Com has built a very prosperous business around that concept. Does it work? I don't know. I've said before that if Mr. Moon and I had entered our data, we would never have been sent each other's profiles.
I don't think I would have fit into the criteria of what he was looking for at all and he would have fit into the criteria of "alien" to me and yet...
Here we are.
Well. What do YOU think? What are some other types of love I have neglected? Types that have made your life richer, fuller, and more worth living? Tell me. And what do you think love is? And what sorts have been most important to you, those with children, those without? The loves you have experienced for and by.
I would be interested to know. And I would want so very much to tell our sister-blogger that her life is rich in many types of love that some people, even people with mates and children, may never have the joy of knowing.
All right. That's all.
I'm going to go cook some salmon now.
And it just occurs to me that some types of love have nothing to do with one-person-for-another. There is the love of art, of literature, of writing, of growing things, of polishing diamonds, of running impossible miles, of music, of doing good works, of sailing on the sea, of the god one believes in, of serving, of making money, of learning, of teaching, of dogs, of cats. Of oneself.
Tell me. Tell me, babies, as I say on my comment panel, tell me what you think.
I love you. Somehow yes, really I do. I don't quite understand it. But I do.
I think, for me, blood being thicker than water is a concept that I -at once- both know and don't. None of my "siblings" are related to me by birth. They are steps. They've been in my life since the age of five, and they were in diapers, but they are no more related to me than my neighbors. And yet - they and their kids are among the most important people in my life.
But -- that is their life. I am a part of it, but its not such that I am a complete part of their family. And that is how it should be.
I'm lucky enough to have known a father's love, a mother's love, and the love of other family members. For that, I should count myself as very lucky. And I do.
I can't help but have wanted for more - but I am trying to stop that. Thank you for writing to me in this. Love you.
I love this post. It's true, all these loves, some we have and some we don't or won't...and I won't ever have that daughter-father love either, and sometimes I feel that lack keenly. We all have holes in our lives...hopefully we can be strong and lucky and creative enough to find things that are so fulfilling it makes the losses easier to bear.ReplyDelete
i spent half my life looking for that mother-daughter love and the other half mourning the loss of something i never felt from the blood from which sprang my flesh. i know of that yearning, the off-kilterness of it all. love is in many different places, and it is up to us to find that part of it which we seek. sometimes we have to travel far to understand it was with us the whole time.ReplyDelete
I love all kinds of things, and you named a bunch of them. I love love. I love you. I love the friends I've made all over the internet. I love digging in the dirt, helping things grow. I love the feel of my Dad's polished stone in my hand. I love the sun through the window after too many rainy days. I love my bed and my pillows when I am so tired I feel beyond repair. I love this post. And if wishes made it so, I'd have SJ feel not another minute of pain for what she hasn't found yet, and I'd have it find her pronto. I'm not sure I believe in fate, but I'm pretty sure I believe in luck, and I'm wishing and hoping lots of luck in her direction. I'd want her to know too, that she has deep and true friendships, that she's worked hard to keep across the distance, and I envy that. It's one of the things I'm sorriest about losing as I moved through my life. Those kinds of friendships are priceless.ReplyDelete
I was thinking too, that there are all kinds of love. I love people I don't like all that much, maybe because we're related and I'm supposed to, or I forgive them their trespasses and hope they love me enough to forgive me mine.
I'm the middle child and as close as you can get to one sibling and as far away as you can be from the other. It's a mystery to me.
Thanks for this beautiful, thoughtful and thought provoking post.
I work with seniors. I looked after a 92 year old lady that walked up and down the hallway calling out, "Mama, Mama." It was so sad. I used to tell her that her mama went to get some eggs. Poor little thing.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Mel. So much.ReplyDelete
Interesting post Ms Moon.ReplyDelete
It does seem that there are different kinds of love. It could be that there is only one kind of love and we create different categories for it, because our brains are trained to do so... perhaps it is cultural. But then when I look at Harley I think, naw, this is really a different sort!
I think the challenge is to love everyone in the same way you would love a child... innocently, passionately and unconditionally...
I will chew on this some more. Good job. You've provided more sweet and positive brain candy.
xo pf Hang in there SJ, you'll find what you are wanting.
I know adoptive parents, who adopted both toddlers and teenagers, and love those children just as much as the ones carried in the womb.ReplyDelete
I think of the love of my grandfather, who loved us so much that he took us in and helped raise us and be the father-figure we needed.
I think at about the love I have for my pets...it may sound stupid to some but they are my children.
I grew up with the "blood is thicker than water" mentality and have realized that has been used to hurt me far more than it has helped me.
I hope SJ finds peace and the love she's looking for.
Sometimes, I climb into my bed at night with a good book and feel the most intense feeling of love that I can imagine. Really.ReplyDelete
But I know what your friend is saying and thinking -- and I firmly believe that while we might experience all kinds of love -- mother-love, lover-love, sibling-love, etc. etc. -- we are, essentially, solitary -- connected to others and the universe, to be sure, but alone and unique, too. And whether we have those other loves or not, that solitariness can sometimes overwhelm us.
Oh, Ms. Moon, this is wonderful and I think encapsulates why you are so wonderful: you can appreciate and share your life, but never say, "This is the only way."ReplyDelete
And SJ, I get it. For four decades I lived for the love of work and friends; romance was nice as a distraction but not as important. But now I want to settle down, and I look around to find a person to love that way, and my options are few. (I've just realized I'm in love with a polygamous warlord, so working that out will be interesting, if indeed we even can.)
I just read your post, and all I can think is "Wow, what a great friend you have there! How lucky!" I'm in a place where I do not have soul friends like that, and I miss that soooo much. More than I miss a partner, really.
But I also understand the depth of the void that our lives can feel when we do not go home to somebody special with little somebodies special. Especially when you know that's what you want. It's suffocating, no? Here's hoping the feeling passes and you get what you want!
Oh, SJ, you live in DC? For all its wonders, I've never lived in a lonelier place. Things WILL get better when you move on.ReplyDelete
In my late 50's I am just getting a clue as to what love really is. And it is quite startling actually. At least to me, who lived a life of pretty much loathing my self and then projecting that onto everybody else.ReplyDelete
I have been wandering around my past a lot, for the last few years actually, and things are starting to come together.
When BabyGirl was born, a brand new and intrinsic love for her began and for BabyMama, of the sort I could never have imagined and of the type I could not have forced.ReplyDelete
I've never known my parents although folks have filled those roles. I've thought of searching for them. But I'm greedy with my love right now.
Such a thought-provoking post, Ms. Moon. And the thought that rose first is that in the midst of so many different kinds of love, the one that is most scarce, it seems to me, is the ability to truly love ourselves. Why is that so damn hard, I wonder?ReplyDelete
I think your list of types of love is pretty good, Mary. The only thing I could think to add is the love of someone you've never meant, but whose words or actions meant so much to you--a hero--if you will. I love Kurt Vonnegut and Harvey Milk, despite the fact I never had the pleasure to know either man. I'm sure of it.ReplyDelete
I'd also like to add that I wish for you SO DAMN MUCH that you had had a good father. If there is another lifetime ahead, I wish that for you.
Truer words never written:
So important that too many differences can dash water all over the embers so that they die and then what the hell is left?
I love you so!
"the one that is most scarce, it seems to me, is the ability to truly love ourselves"ReplyDelete
The Dalai Lama was, reportedly, surprised and bewildered to learn that this is a common difficulty for Westerners.
SJ- Not only is there nothing wrong with wanting more love and different kinds- YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO AVOID IT! You can count on that one.ReplyDelete
Maggie May- I think of that so much. In making sure my kids had good fathers, I have fathered myself in someway. You do the same. I know it.
Mrs. A- Amen, sister-woman. I know. You're right!
Mel- And thank-you for giving us all that beautiful love-perspective.
Birdie- That is SO sad. Good answer you gave her, though. I'm sure that Mama did go get eggs.
Ms. Fleur- You could be right, darling.
Mel's Way- Now that's what I'm talking about. Thank-you!
Elizabeth- And that's exactly what I said on her post.
NOLA- Another beautiful perspective. Thank-you.
Andrew- Good wisdom. Age does have some benefits, doesn't it?
Anonymous (Mags?)- Thank-you. You are a good father and I am sure a good husband, too. Baby Girl and Baby Mama are blessed as are you.
Angella- I completely agree on the loving-ourself thing. It is the hardest. And I have no idea why.
Dearest Mary, another brilliant post. I think love is important in whatever form you have it. I have it from family, my wonderful boyfriend and my amazing frends. Love you Mary xxReplyDelete
I think that learning to love myself was really powerful. And from that I was able to love others.ReplyDelete
Christina- And that makes me happy. Love you, too.ReplyDelete
Syd- I'm working on it. I am. Because I know you are right.
Two of my adult children have no love in their lives. One is near 28..a beautiful young woman in every way..inside and out. My other 25 and life is full yet she too can't seem to find men who are willing to love with all their hearts. They both want a husband, children and a loving relationship with that partner as well as a solid friendship.ReplyDelete
I feel I was lucky to have met the love of my life who puts up with me. Me!
But a loving relationship may come easy for some seems impossible for others. With a woman the desire to be a mother does have a clock ticking if they want a biological child. Those two daughters say they will have children even if they can not find a mate if they get into their thirties. Maybe they will sister mother their children...
My oldest daughter has found her love...
Mother love..well. My mom may have loved me and did ill thought ideas in the name of mothering but she is not me. I will not be crying out for her when I am near death..no I will call out my Love..and long for his arms to hold me.
This is a post I will be re-reading Mary and will come up upon so many thoughts of it...
We all desire love, want to give love, and be given love...
ah.. Mary , this is so very wonderful.ReplyDelete
and I wonder if it's just me, but I seem to notice many more single people... like thirty is the new twenty or something. and then.. well , it might be that much more difficult to make the effort to meld your life with someone else. I don't know.
Ellen- And not only do we want to love and be loved, we want the ones we love to have the same! Thank-you for all those thoughts. I'm so glad you have love now.ReplyDelete
deb- I think people are afraid now to make the commitment. Maybe it's because the world is so at-our-fingertips and we all know that there are so many options and how can we be sure that we're making the right choice when there are so MANY choices?
Oh hell. I don't know.
But it's sort of sad.
I love this post Ms. Moon. It comes from your heart and it's true and honest and should be published. I'm reading Tolstoy's journals and this is what he had to say on the subject of love: the more man/woman lives a conscious life, the greater is the number of beings that he will begin to love, and the greater his wish that they have their happiness. His words remind me so much of your thoughts expressed here.ReplyDelete