ONE: It’s not fair! Why won’t you kiss me the same way you kiss Daddy?
ME: Because the way you kiss someone you’re in love with is different than the way you kiss someone you gave birth to.
(And even if that wasn’t an issue, I’ve SEEN some of the things you’ve put in your mouth when you thought no one was looking, thankyoubutnothanks…)
ONE: You love Daddy more than me.
ME: You’re stalling.
Even though I declined to reengage in that battle and instead tucked you in, I think a lot about that statement and hope you’ll bring it up again when you’re old enough to understand my responses. I hope you’ll still care then. But just in case you don’t, love between parents is important, no matter how jealous it makes you now. One day you’ll get that, and it will sustain you on the days when the love for your children drives you mad.
And just in case you get confused, love does not make you feel guilty. Ever. It might convict you of the areas in your life that you’re not living the way you should, but it never condemns you.
And just in case you don’t believe it, the love of true friends is waaaay more important than the love of boys. Boys won’t really know how to love you until they’re much older, anyway. And while it’s impossible for the boys you’ve loved to remain a part of your life, you never have to give away the love of true friends.
And just in case sharing a room with your sister changes your mind about what love really is, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” Sounds cliché, right? That’s because people have repeated it over and over and over because it’s true. Strive to love your sister like that; she’ll love you that way back. For the rest of your lives.
And just in case I’m not there to wistfully watch along, first love is intense. You will always remember how you shivered in his jacket on that March day when brisk air broke through the ice like a purple crocus. You’ll remember the way your heart pounded in your ears and your body shook when he kissed you the first time.
And just in case you’d rather die than talk to me about it later, love NEVER equals sex. No matter what he tells you.
And just in case you’re too afraid or ashamed to come back home, love always, ALWAYS opens the door. Even if it’s 2am and you’re tripping on acid and you haven’t been home in days and you can’t remember what’s real and what’s part of your hallucination. Love is always real. Come home.
And just in case you feel lost and without purpose, love sits with you and lets you cry. Love helps you sort things out and gives you a glimpse of who you can be. Because love believes in you as an adult, just like love believed in you as a child.
And just in case you ever doubt you’re worth it, love lays down his heart for you and accepts you as his friend, even when he wants more. And then he sticks around until you realize you’ve been looking for him your entire life. And then he asks you to marry him. And then he kisses you in front of hundreds of eyes in a way that you never, ever want to share with anyone else.
Even your lovely child as she pitches her last fit of the day.
ONE: Mama? Will you always love me? Even if I get mad and tell all of my friends about the time a bird pooped on your head?
ME: Yes, Pea. I’ll still love you. Though you DO know that was just something Birdy and I imagined when we were 8, right? It didn’t actually happen.
ONE: It didn’t? Ooops…but what about if I was dead? Would you still love me then?
ME: I still love THREE, and I never even got to meet her.
ONE: Hmmmmm… I guess Mamas really do love their babies, don’t they?
To put it lightly, yes.