"A mother's arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them." ~Victor Hugo
For the last 4 days I have been posting about the four different types of love...Storge-affection, Phila-friendship, Eros-romantic and Agape-charity. From type to type, there are elements that are shared by each. Physical and mental components are reflected in each type love. Loving a family includes spending time with that them....physically being with them. I have friends who were adopted at a very young age who said upon meeting their birth family in later life, felt disconnected from them, no matter how kind and welcoming they were to them. To love our family we must spend time with them as we spend time with our friends and lovers. Kindness, caring and respect are part of loving no matter what type. When these elements are missing or absent, love is absent from the relationship whether that relationship is with family, friends, lovers or humanity.
The old Smother's Brothers joke that "Mom always liked you best" doesn't hold at my house. My son will say, "Mom loves me best". My daughter will say, "Mom loves me best." At which point I will say, "I love you both equally." Later Matthew and Kathryn will come to me, put their arm around me and whisper in my ear that "I know you love me best but you have to say that you have to say that because you don't want to hurt Matthew/Kathryn's feelings."
I am pleased that both my children feel loved but I believe that love is love. There are no degrees to love. Either you love someone or you don't. You don't kind of love someone today; it is like a traditional light switch. It is either on or off. I tell my children that I love them. I can't love one more than the other because love is real, tangible and unlimited. Love is like Doritos...you don't run out, you just make more.
I will say that some days the "feeling" of love is illusive. When I'm tired, grumpy and don't particularly want to be around myself much less someone else, feeling the love isn't right on the surface. But unlike a light switch, if you truly love someone, you can't just turn it off. At those times showing love may be difficult but you still love them. Starting tomorrow, I will post about how to show love and why it is important. The good part about aging and yes, there are some good parts, is that with age comes the ability to clear away the clutter and make time for what is important. As we think about how to intentionally love the people we care about, we put effort behind our beliefs and leave footsteps in the sand for others to follow.