Happy Valentine’s Day!
Was the postman waiting for you this morning with two dozen red roses and a giant teddy holding a shiny red heart?
(I’m talking in a delivery person capacity rather than just as a secret admirer. That might be awkward.)
No. Me neither. I’m glad though. Those teddies are awful.
At a time of the year when we are practically obliged to celebrate some ideal of romantic love, it’s easy to forget the other loves in our lives; our friends, our family and our children.
The love you share with your children is a unique kind of love. It’s an unconditional, mutually dependent love; a love you know will always be there. The love you get from your children when they are young is like nothing else you will ever experience – it’s a devotion, a dependency, a total acceptance of who you are, a love that is truly liberating.
Belle is ten years old now, and I am still (just about) maintaining my place at the centre of her world. As a baby, she hated being apart from me, and would cry loudly and sorrowfully if I put her down even for a few minutes. So I didn’t. I held her all the time, I let her love me, and I loved her back.
As she has grown up, the dependency she felt as a baby has given way to an adventurous, confident spirit. I believe that the love we shared when she was younger has been crucial to this, giving her a safe, secure emotional base from which to explore the world.
Of course she still has a strong sense of attachment, we spend quite a lot of time together, and one of her favourite ways to express herself is through writing letters and drawing pictures. She enjoys nothing more that sitting up in bed at night, creating colourful, illustrated notes for me. I have a whole stash of them. “Dear Mummy,” reads one “thanks you very much for my hair. I love you so much for it.”
My favourite is a note written on turquoise card in rainbow colours, with a different felt-tip pen for every letter. “Dear Mummy,” it says, “I love you so much I want to cuddle you all day! But unforchuntley I have to go to school. Lots of love Belle”.
Now that’s what I call love.
What does love mean to you?