Being Real, Real Love

Friday afternoon, it was official that the person I have worked under for over two years is leaving. The news came right as I was leaving to pick up K from after school care. I had tears streaming down my face as I drove to the school… but as he got into the car I had stopped the flood gates. Once he started talking about his day, I started to cry. I explained why. I stated I was trying to not cry, but I guess it is ok he knew I was sad.

On Monday a tornado ripped through our town. It was not known until Tuesday the destruction that had happened. As I was visiting the elementary school where most of the families impacted were zoned, I had a conversation with some of the staff. One counselor mentioned how much their families have gone through. She stated, “we told them the pandemic was a rare, once in the lifetime event, then we said the freeze last year (we call snowapocalypse) was a rare, once in the lifetime. Now we tell them the tornado is rare, one in a lifetime…” I looked at her and said, “I think they are going to stop believing us if we keep telling them everything is rare.” I then suggested instead of saying things are rare and trying to make kids feel better, what if we let kids be “scared, sad, afraid.” And instead of trying to make them feel better with saying something is rare, we instead sit with them in their emotions and ask them to focus on the adults who help them feel safe.

Too often when things are hard, we want to try to just fix it. We want to be the one to help someone not feel these hard emotions… but the reality is, this doesn’t help anyone. Hard emotions are part of life and the more we model this to others, the more they feel like they can experience the same emotions.

The last six months have been some of the hardest in the last 23 years of my life (basically since my mom died). I really don’t have words to express the complexity of emotions that have come from both my personal and professional life… all I can say is in all areas of life, it has been harder than I knew I could endure. At each point of complete defeat and crumbling, Matthew has been there. Not to fix anything, but just sitting beside me.

With love, society often has us fixated on things that really aren’t what matters… How did he propose? How big of ring did you get? How many flowers did you get for Valentine’s day? My experience is these things really don’t measure love. Love is about those who lean towards you when things are hard. Love is the person who says yes each time you say we need to jump, to help your dad as he is picking up the pieces of his life. He is the one to load and unload a u-haul for the third time in six months. He is the one that shows our son that this is what it means to love your family.

Does someone sitting with me in the ditch change the fact that I am in the ditch? No, but it does mean I am not alone. It does mean I don’t cry by myself. It does mean the burden seems less because I don’t carry it alone. Someone once asked me how I knew I would love Matthew in 20 years. I stated, I don’t, but I know he is the one I want to work to still love in 20 years because he isn’t afraid to crawl in the ditch with me.

Too often I feel like we have thought the point of parenting, and loving another is making sure they don’t feel hurt, or pain… but how wrong this is. The point of parenting, and loving, is to show you don’t have to be alone with the hard emotions of life.

I am glad I couldn’t stop from crying when I picked up K on Friday. He saw that life is hard at times, even for his parents. He got to see that he could be the one that sits with another (even a grownup) when times are hard. He got to see that being real is the point of life, the point of loving others.

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