It seems clear to me that Miss Elizabeth, the hyphenated poetess wonder, before being hyphenated was fashionable, wrote exactly what she meant when she was counting the ways, “I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach,” I mean, she’s quite succinct and concise yes? She did not seem to be at all uncertain, she rather simply defines her feelings. There are some people who truly, madly, and deeply believe in the concept of & the word –love– and some who believe it does not “exist” or is not “real” because it cannot be clearly defined, and most of us I think fall somewhere in between. Any of us who are mothers know that there is an extreme unconditional emotion we have and we feel towards our children and feelings that we, more often than not, can’t possibly put into words. However, any of us who have been in ‘relationship love’ more than once know that those types of romantic feelings and emotions do indeed have conditions, and come and go over time, place, or circumstance. We never stop loving a child yet we can stop loving, surprisingly easily I have found, a romantic partner…and I wonder why or how that is?
When we are newly in love it sure feels intense and like it could never ever end, yet it frequently does, more often than not actually. The intensity with which we love a child, from the moment it is removed from our body or handed over to us, feels intense and like it could never ever end, and it doesn’t, ever. Why? Is it deeper? Somehow more valid? What makes us able to love deeply and unconditionally and for absolutely EVER, our children, but not other people?
In my past I’ve been told the words -I love you- and then realized not as deeply as the love for an 8-ball, or not as deeply as the rush of sneaking around behind my back with a girl who worked at a Dunkin Donuts counter…well you get it…I’ve been told the words by a few men who turned out to be wrong for me for all the right reasons. I’ve had two break ups in my life that made me feel devastatingly crushed and wondering how my heart would ever heal, and yet it did and always does; rather remarkably one day you wake up, and suddenly you’re “over it,” like a cold or the flu. I’ve also had a couple of break ups that made me feel like the weight of a tractor-trailer had been lifted off my chest or that made me feel relieved and revived as if I were in a perpetual Calgon ‘take me away’ kind of bath…ones that perhaps were not so deep at all…
I’ve never, in these 28 years, found myself comparing romantic love to the love I feel for my child, it’s totally NOT the same. The love that I have for my daughter and now her daughters is impossible for me to describe or define, but that does not make me think it is not real, it does however make me think it is BIGGER than words and BRIGHTER than the sun and DEEPER than the Mariana Trench. I have said the words, ‘this is not working for me’ to several men and ended a relationship, yet no matter the ups, downs, difficulties, or hardships of raising a child to adulthood, I never said nor thought ‘this is not working for me’ regarding my daughter because as a mother you just keep going, keep sorting things out, it just goes on and on because you do not ever give up on your child…it may not be “working” at the moment, but you know and believe it will all sort itself out. Maybe that could be the secret to romantic love, loving deeply and purely enough that you decide not to give up, and believing that no matter what, it will all sort itself out.