Will you be mine?

Tomorrow is one of those days that some love, some hate. It is hard to find someone who has no opinion on it. I guess that makes sense.

Forced displays of affection + lots of advertising dollars + media-driven fantacies = impossible expectations/inevitable disappointment.

Love is great….mostly, and not great. Valentine’s Day is not necessarily so great.

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I remember studying love in philosophy class as a college student. Plato went on and on about the different types of love. I was intensely invested in the class, not because of any unique philosophical prowess, because I had a major crush on the professor. I can put myself right back in that desk chair and can feel the cramp in my hand as I wrote down every word that came out of his mouth, praying that he noticed that I cared more about Plato than any of the other students in that class and being convinced that my eyes were the ones that he met the most as his curly hair bounced with every gesture and his voice raised with excitement as he shared…..I digress….Here are the categorizations that he suggests:

  • Eros, or sexual passion
  • Philia, or deep friendship
  • Ludus, or playful love
  • Agape, or love for everyone
  • Pragma, or longstanding love
  • Philautia, or love of the self

I’m no Plato but I have a working list of love-categories too:

  • Dutiful love, or the kind of love that gets you out of bed at the sound of puking, keeps your arm asleep under a heavy head, lets your shirt be used as a kleenex, shows up, stays and swallows deeply.
  • Growing love, or that which comes in waves as you get to know someone more and more and find that they have etched themselves permanently into your heart. This love is open to seeing more, to peeling back the layers, to being caught off guard by the wonder of another.
  • Begrudging love, or the one that you give when you know that you have to but you don’t particularly feel it…but you do it anyway…no matter what…maybe not with a smile but you do it.
  • Tender love, or this stuff that seeps out of your pores, changes you, catches you by surprise, leaves you speechless, takes your breath away and brings you to tears.
  • Loaded love,  or the push and pull that guilts you and twists you and bashes you about inside of your head… sometimes on purpose
  • Belly-laugh love, the reflex that comes when you made it through the hard thing and are at the other side of it so you can look back at it together and give that knowing glance that erupts into laughter in the way that can only happen between folks who deeply know one another and have been through some stuff
  • Naked love,  a lens which makes bodily functions ok, sees parts as connected to function, as well as worthy of objectifying, doesn’t look away, doesn’t stare too long but also hooks a gaze deeply
  • Reflected love, all the ways that you see yourself that you would never have seen if the one who loves you didn’t point them out and remind you again and again of what you look like through their eyes
  • Gracious love, this is the one that forgives. This is the one that is prepared to have another go, to give a second chance, to offer the gift of seeing the big picture and understanding the context. This is the love that you never earn or lose because it just is. This is the one that we get and give glimpses. This is the one that is divine.

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There are probably more. None can stand alone. For you to be mine or me to be yours, we need the spectrum. I have gotten lots of love in my life. I have gotten to give lots of it too. This Valentine’s Day, I want to relish that. I want to honor that. I want to lift it up and wave it in the air for everyone to see.  I want to name that while love is patient, its also impatient. Love is kind but sometimes it can be not so nice. It is all the things that we are.

How could it not be?

It is us. It is us. It is us.

 

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The big cry of Christmas Eve 2016

I have a habit of trying to busy my way past stress. If the to-dos are heafty enough, surely there will not be any time for feeling sadness, or so I like to tell myself. A holiday is a perfect situation for engaging this strategy.

This year, our family felt like one of those broken-families for the first time in 14 years since my divorce. We have managed to live in such a way that relative peace surrounds our family and most life-events are shared. That is not the case this year. We have been adjusting to a new rythm with clear division of space and time between my ex and myself. It is not comfortable. It is painful. It is stressful. To complicate an already tender time, the plans, traditions, expectations of a holiday season ramp everything up and invite the worst kind of entitlement. My Christmas should be fantastic, of course. My traditions should be upheld at all cost. My gifts will be the best. My events will be the most fun. My, my, my….

I am primed to engage my strategy to mitigate all of the risks of feeling any negative emotions. Lists are written. Guests are invited. Decorations are hung. Gifts are made/bought. Meals are planned. Good-deeds are scheduled. Every nook and cranny that could house any sadness is filled with something to do or someone to do something for or somewhere to be. It serves me so very well….until it doesn’t.

Our kids met us at Macy’s for our anual tradition of taking a picture with Santa. They came with the feelings that they carried from leaving their father on Christmas Eve. Heavy stuff. All of us tried to move through this event as if it was the same as it had been for the past 14 years. You park, walk through women’s shoes, take the elevator to the 8th floor, walk through the Santaland Display, snag a spot in line to be hearded into the velvet-draped room where we fight about which kid sits on Santa’s knee, then out to select this year’s ornament and home again home again, jiggety jog. Done.

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We get home, have a snack, get back into the car, go to Christmas Eve service, come home, take down all of the Advent decorations, put up the Christmas decor, hang the stockings….that is when it happened…that is when we crashed into the wall of this-year-is-not-like-the-other-years-and-that-really-sucks. If memory serves, 5 of the 7 of us cried (child #1 is overseas so she missed out on being one of the criers). We each had our own take on why we were sad and our own complaints, dissapointments, resentments, and feelings of entitlement that bubbled out of us and at one another in angry tones and through stinging tears. I felt all the sads from what our family was going through on top of the dissapointment that my to-do lists had not innoculated myself, nor my kids, nor my husband from ugly-cries on Christmas Eve when everything is supposed to be perfect!

The funny thing about this sort of moment is how much better we all feel after having it. Our bodies are not being fooled by the distractions that we dangle in front of them. The tears need to happen. The feelings need to be acknowleded. That phrase ‘to have a good cry’ is just so, so true.

Apologies were said for the ugly words that bubbled up during our collective-melt-downs. Dinner was eaten at about 1:30 am and then we began our sweet, lovely, quiet, unplanned, unmanaged, gift-exchange with laughter and that peace that we all longed for. It was perfect.

None of our holidays will ever feel quite the same again…. Part of that is because of the new dynamics. Part of that is because really none of them ever were the same…there is always something that is different. Last year, children 1 and 2 were in Spain and we were in New Orleans…that was different. Every year life provides the grace of change and growth that moves us into newness, deviation from norms, adustments, natural ends and beginnings. That is the norm. That always has been the norm. That will always be the norm.

I am so thankful for the big-cry-of-Christmas-Eve-2016.

 

Just another manic Monday

Busy times of day feel a little bit like a symphony to me. Crescendos and decrescendos of voices moving both independently and in concert with one another. Solos fight for attention by beating back the competing sounds. There is harmony that binds it all together as if a conductor were guiding the players.

Today we have dad on the phone doing a consultation in his deep, calm, clear ‘therapist voice’, Scout meowing piercingly at the door to be let outside, child#4 singing a refrain over and over in his newly-aquired bass tone, children 5 and 6 providing percussion as they knock insistently on the bathroom door, child#3 drives the soprano line over all with an aria of complaints and miseries. Opening and closing of silverware drawers, blowdryers driving background line, bowls meeting tables, sliding of chair legs, tumbling of ice cubes, faucets on and off, tap tap of Stella’s paws moving stealthily along the kitchen floor to scoop up any discarded crumbs….then…it all freezes….the alto line from child#5 takes over the piece with a cry of anger

“Stop pretending there is hair in the food. You know that really makes me want to puke!”

The room is quiet.

Giggles bubble up and grow to fill the room for a rousing finish and resolve the dissonance like the chorus of happy strings at the end of a concert.

The bus arrives. They are out of the door. The house is silent. The piece is over.

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