FEATURE — “You and dad have more of a companionship type of love,” my eldest expounded at the dinner table over brisket and lemon potatoes Monday night. “You don’t need to be around each other constantly and when you’re not together, you don’t have to be Facetiming.”
True enough, I thought. Because we have appropriate boundaries, and we are two separate people with hobbies and interests and friends.
But still, I was irked at the accusation.
I didn’t get into this marriage for “companionship.” I got into it for love. Magnetic, life-spawning, heart-stopping love. And by damn, I wanted my children to know it.
If they didn’t already. Which apparently was the case.
“I will have you know that your dad and I do not have a companionship love … we have a hot love,” I told them emphatically.
End of story.
I looked around the table to make sure everyone got the updated evaluation of their father’s and my love only to be greeted by eye-rolling and at least one grimace.
My youngest reached out and took my hand gently in his, a salve in advance of the wound he was about to deliver. “Well, mom, you and dad may have a hot love, but you have to admit it is kind of crusty.”
Then, he got up from the table, rinsed his dish and put it in the dishwasher. The dishwasher. As if that – responsibly cleaning up after himself without being reminded – would settle it.
Well, it did not settle it! Not one little bit. As impressive as his 11-year-old dish game is.
But I was the only one who felt like the conversation wasn’t over. One by one, my other boys got up and cleared their dishes as well.
I sat alone at the table thinking.
They were part teasing me with the crusty business. They like to do that. They get that from their father. One of the reasons he said he got married in the first place was to have someone to tease. And likewise, why he had children: all the more people to tease.
But they were also being truthful. They see their father and me as loving companions. Which is a good thing. A very good thing. As much as I argued otherwise.
My oldest will be off to college within the year. No longer will he spend Monday nights around our dinner table analyzing his parents’ love with his two younger brothers. He’ll be out in the world, taking the lessons he learned around our table and incorporating them into his own life.
Or so I hope.
Until then, I have a few more months to instill a few more lessons. Unless my husband is right that our children stop listening to us at age 16.
But assuming he’s wrong (and I hope he is), I want to articulate a few things to my boy about love before he goes:
- Love yourself. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary before you can love someone else.
- Be honest. Generally. But especially be honest about who you are. Both to yourself and to others.
- When you’re ready to love someone else, choose wisely. Look for someone who brings out your best qualities and minimizes your lesser qualities. And vice versa. Two good people can make one bad match.
- Talk. About politics and books and interesting movies and ideas that make your head spin. Talk about your hopes and dreams. Talk about hers. Talk about what you need. Talk about what she needs. Never stop talking.
- Go to bed mad. Then, talk passionately through your problems in the morning. You’ll be better able to do so with some sleep on your side. Assuming you’re still mad the next day.
But even with all of that, and everything else he’s hopefully learned in our home, I want him to know that sometimes love doesn’t work out. He will have heartbreaks. He will cause heartbreaks. And he may never find the love that he wants.
And all of that is OK. All of that is life. Hot love. Companionship love. Crusty love. And every kind of love and loss in between.
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