Tag Archives: family

Can I Love You Less?

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“It’s a love like no other.”

baby-lovedAt least that’s what I’ve been told. I’ve also heard, “It’s the purest unconditional love” and “Like nothing else on Earth.” Maybe for you it is. But that’s not me.

You see, I recently became a grandparent, and all my grandparent friends congratulated me with sentiments like these. But I don’t get it. And it makes me feel like maybe I’m missing something.

Did I not love my children? Wasn’t that unconditional love? I cried when my babies were handed to me. I was overjoyed as I counted their fingers and toes. I saw my own hands in my son’s long fingers. Can anything compare to that?

Did I not love my husband? There were times it felt that our hearts melted together and we knew that in that moment we were both the same.

Do I not love my siblings? For certain, I love them and my friends unconditionally. They are who they are, and I accept that. We’ve shared joys and sorrows, fun and laughter. And even though I don’t speak to some of them very often, I still feel the same. Our history is still shared. Our memories are interwoven.

I loved my parents my whole life, and even though they’re both gone, I love them still.

I love my sons, both of them, equally. They are totally different and each has talents and characteristics that make him unique. I love that about them. And it doesn’t matter whether they become rich or successful or live as a struggling artist. I will always love them with all my heart.

And don’t all parents feel that way? So how is it that people freely say they love their grandchildren like never before? Do some people actually dole out less love to their children than they did to their parents? Or worse, do some people share less love with their aging – perhaps dying – parents than they do with this little person only months old?

Evidently, they do. They hold back their hearts. I don’t understand it because we are the ones who lose out. When we hold love back because of hurt. Or when we hold it back out of fear that it won’t be returned. Or when we hold it back out of anger or because we think others aren’t worthy. Or worse, when we believe we aren’t worthy.

The way I see it, love is not something that is dependent on who the recipient is…whether your parent, spouse, child or neighbor. Love is a result of the giver. You either give love or you don’t.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you felt the same love for your father, despite his dementia and constant need for attention, that you do for the infant with her inability to communicate and total dependence?

And of course you can. Because it’s your decision how much you love.

It doesn’t matter that you have a history with someone or not. It’s the same with this little baby girl who hasn’t yet spoken my name – or should I say the name she will eventually call me. Does it matter that I don’t have to put her to bed every night? Does it matter that she looks equally like her other side of the family as she does mine? Not at all. But then, it never mattered with my sons either. It didn’t matter how they did in school. Or whether they excelled at sports. I love them fully. I don’t think I could love anyone more. Or less.

Because love doesn’t vary with the way others behave. It’s not love that changes. Love only varies when we decide not to give it.

It’s just a choice we make to feel or not feel it. And like every other decision, we can change it. We can give our hearts the freedom to love everyone. Equally. Because it’s our heart to give, it’s our choice how “in love” we feel. And once we open up our hearts and treat everyone with the love they probably don’t “deserve” but need just the same, the whole world changes. People know when they’re being treated with love. And they return it the same way it was given.

So do yourself a favor. If you want to be loved unconditionally, you must love others the same way. And without fail, they will love you back. All of them. Every time. They won’t be able to help themselves.

And believe me when I say it’s possible. Because I couldn’t love you less.

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Just Don’t Fall

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Up in a treeImage

Away from the others

That’s where you’d find me

Hiding from brothers.

Just a skinny little girl

Of five or six

Getting away from the world

And the neighbor kid’s tricks.

“You’ll break your arm!”

My mom would cry.

“Only if I fall!”

Was my confident reply.

Favorite of all was the little plum tree

That shaded the play yard

For my sister and me.

In the spring the blossoms would cover the branches

I’d climb even higher, taking my chances

Up to where the limbs were small

I’d shake them violently

And the petals would fall

Raining down flowers

I’d squeal “Here it comes!”

My mother would sigh

“We’ll never have plums.”

Pandora’s Box

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I finally had to do it. It’s been taking up room in my closet since I moved in, and I need the space. Downsizing from full-sized tote to under-the-bed storage is critical. It’s just not something I looked forward to doing.

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It’s fun to go through boxes of old pictures with friends and family, each taking a few out at a time and recollecting the memories invoked by the fading images — rethinking hairstyle decisions and fashion choices, comparing the changing city skyline over the decades, recalling old faithful automobiles, and of course, remembering those who are gone now. It’s always a sweet and sentimental process, laughing through the tears.

By myself however, not so much. I get stuck wondering what to do with all of these pictures. I’ve already put my favorites into frames and albums. This box is mostly full of those candid shots that weren’t the most presentable, but are surely the more honest portraits – kids clowning around, my sister trying to hide from the camera, Mom and siblings around the breakfast table. (Seriously) Who takes pictures at breakfast you ask? Well, if Dad had a new lens he wanted to try or film he had to “use up,” anything was fair game.  And since I bought my first camera at about 10 years old, there’s a whole collection of the world shot from a kid’s perspective. Funny to see what I thought was picture-worthy. My dog “Candy” was a common subject and my little nephews made for cute, albeit blurry, images.

Beyond the captured occasions, I drift into deeply held memories of the people in these photographs — conversations we had, times we told stories and shared laughs, discussions that turned into differences, and decisions that led us to separate paths. Inevitably, I come across photos from events that were overshadowed by someone’s drama… the wedding where so-and-so stormed out, the party where what’s-her-name drank too much, and family gatherings that always seem to be missing the one who could never be there on time.

I really can’t take it. I don’t like spending time in the past. I pitched a bunch of duplicates and poor quality prints, but there are too many years to sift through alone. So I dump the contents of the bigger box into the much smaller box and shift it around until the lid fits.

Then, as I shove it under the bed, I realize:  at least I won’t be adding to this box anymore. Ever since digital pics and online sharing, I don’t have tons of extra pictures floating around. I think I prefer this new photography – take the picture, upload it to all my friends, and be done with it. No more looking back into a musty collection of bygone days. Just sharing what I’m enjoying… now… with people who care enough to enjoy it with me… now… and deleting all the drama.