Thursday, September 23, 2010

Love is not loving

(A few thoughts on love after a difficult night with my spirited children)

Feeling love is not loving. Loving is every day. Every minute. Every time our eyes meet or not, every time our forces clash, every single every we experience together. Loving is getting to know someone well enough to help them become who they are with as little impediment and as much encouragement as possible in this dangerous, dastardly world. 

Love, as a feeling, is unconditional and possibly uncontrollable. Love, as an action, is a deliberate choice every moment I have the strength, presence of mind, time and will to make it. I have more loving moments now in a widening variety of ways. I also have many hurried, disconnected, impatient, unwilling, irritated, dark, despairing moments. I try not to beat myself up about it. 

Love, as a feeling, is compelling, strength-giving, patience building. It can be a well to draw from.

Love, as an action, is demanding, often difficult, and requires skill and practice. It draws on the well.

My life of practice aims to increase my focus on the love I feel in order to strengthen and grow it, while deliberately choosing to overcome myself to act lovingly more often. I've been consciously in practice for about two years. I'm sometimes proud of how far I've come, and often ashamed to find myself so unskilled, so lacking in staying power.

Ah, child, soldier on. There's naught but muck from here one way or t'other. 

Musical accompaniment by David Bowie Soul Love http://tinysong.com/fozG


  1. love. once again, i must say, you are me, and i am you as you will be, soon.
    true love is the one that survives the daily beating. not the easy fairy tale kind, not the fantasy. true love lives and breathes and changes every second of every day.
    you are there, in it, right now.

  2. thank you. I recognized my future self in you right away. I'm always telling my kids that practice is how we get better.

  3. I like the distinction you make between love as a feeling and love as an action. Sometimes, when love as a feeling is lacking, that's when it's most important for me to consciously love as an action. And yeah... I am often dismayed at how far I am from mastering the practice of love.

    Great post!

  4. Loving is seeing all that is good within the child, and helping him see it too...even when when he himself refuses to believe it.

    Believe. A mother's heart knows.

    I have believed as you are believing now...and I've lived to get to the other side. And it is beautiful!

    And every ounce of energy it took, every smidge of keeping a composure that did not want to be kept...every single, crazy, absurd moment was beautiful and perfect in every way. It shaped and molded both kid and parent.

    We aren't meant to change our children, our children are meant to change us.

  5. Yes, j, I think that it can become chicken and egg. I've found "fake it till you make it" actually often does work over time - choosing the loving action creates love. Thanks for that!

  6. Wendy, that really is encouraging, and true. One of the reasons I decided (last minute) to take on parenting was like taking an immersion course in being a better person. I was at risk staying in the shallows. I'm becoming who I want to be for them.

  7. You are parenting mindfully, and wide-awake. I can think of no better way really. You are more inspiring than you probably feel. Thank you.

  8. Thank YOU! you're right, I don't feel inspiring, nor very inspired a lot of the time, but it's a life work

  9. Being a mother of five, I can honestly say I've been there....I am there...right there with you. Your writing is brave, honest and endearing. Thank you for sharing it.

  10. Wow, Jennifer, I salute you. If you can do this, I can.

  11. This is great and just what I need to hear.
    You always make me think about my life and how I can do better...
    Thank you for that.
    Love. You.

  12. Thanks, B. We do so for each other.


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