As a child, love is just something you tell your parents and though you sincerely believe it to be true, you know not the tremendous weight it carries nor its consequences. You know only it is sweet, pure, and openly displayed. A hug, a kiss, or a simple declaration. Affection and duty seemed one to me, and I never questioned the love I had for my parents - it was my responsibility as well as theirs. They were likewise loyal to me in their love and never made me think otherwise.
Then six years into my life, a sibling was born and I had very heavy hesitations about where my parents love went. Suddenly, I was not the center of attention. Suddenly, it was not all about me anymore. Suddenly, everyone only cared about this little cute being. Suddenly, this little living creature that I had openly wished for and voiced to my parents for so long, was now depriving me of the love and affection I deserved.
I eventually learned to like my little brother, maybe even love him, but I never was able to openly express it. Maybe it was the age difference, maybe it was my immaturity, maybe it was the lack of examples around me, maybe it was the inverse relationship of physical affection and age (as one decreased, the other rose), or maybe it was that we were Chinese and not comfortable making big gestures after middle school. I'm not sure what it was. .... but the hugs and kisses stopped, even the open "I love yous." In its place, I was told I was a good and obedient daughter, a value that I believe was revered higher than that of love, and instead of being told I was loved, there were gifts for when I did something well or good... ice cream, a Barbie doll, piercing my ears...
I'm not saying there wasn't love in our house, it just was different than the love I know now. I don't recall ever telling my brother I love him, but I have started to use the words "miss" and "think" when speaking of our relationship and what the distance between us has generated. Though I tell my mom I love her, it's not consistent, and it's almost as if just passing by like the American version of "how are you?" spoken, but not really meant to have a follow-up besides to say it because it's the nice thing to say. My father, I have not told him I love him since maybe the fifth grade. It feels weird to admit my immediate family seems so devoid of love, but I think we avoid the verbal and physical affections associated with love and instead try to demonstrate it through acts of service and gifts.
But here's the weird thing about love.. it changes. And molds. And transforms. And has so much power.
After I gave birth to Jordan, after I became a parent for the first time... I realized how much more I loved my parents for all that they sacrificed for me. For my mother going through almost ten months of being pregnant, and for my father for putting up with her throughout this time. For my mother who gave birth without drugs and had me in the course of two hours (from the time she left the house to the hospital), and for my father who loved me even though I was not the boy he expected (or the boy my grandmother so desperately wanted to meet before she passed when I was three).
I never knew how tremendous that love was until I experienced it myself.
The funny thing about that is... to say I loved my son right from the moment I met him would be a vicious lie told only so I could blend in with all the loving mothers out there. I did not love my son immediately. I was scared of him. His tiny body. His purple toes. His bloated eyes. I was scared of the chance he'd stop breathing out of nowhere. I was scared of his spit-ups, his tiny gagging sounds, and I was scared I'd ruin him for life (I'm still scared of that.. even now!). The weight of this huge responsibility of being his mother, his caretaker, his milk supply, his teacher, and his comfort scared me. And even though I knew I was supposed to love him, I think I wasn't quite ready to love him. Motherhood is scary like that. Or was for me. I just wasn't ready to fall in love with my baby the moment I saw him.
I knew what love was when a boy said it to me. It was something I usually laughed at or responded with "thank you?" until the day my now husband said it to me (that was the day my stomach leaped, my heart stopped, and my mind went blank, that was the day we kissed for the first time, and that was when I knew whatever we had was something special- not that we'd get married, just that there was worthwhile and meaningful happening). And ever since, that love has also grown and changed. But it's so natural to love your husband. You already loved him before you decided to be with him forever. But a child? You never even got the chance to fall in love with it or meet it until it was born.. and then he's just this purple alien who cries and poops and eats.
I've since learned that I really have issues with the L word. Of people overusing it. Of people putting too much weight on it. Of people making such a big deal of it. And then I realized... I myself was guilty of that. Soooo soooo stupid.
The L word is a powerful word, but it's more than just a word, it's a symbol of so much. Of sacrifice, of giving, of being, of caring, of doing....
I eventually learned to love my son. Or I eventually fell in love with my son. I'm not sure when it happened, or even how it happened... but there's a reason God makes those babies so dang cute. It makes them so much easier to love.
And now, I simply can't stop loving my son. I am obsessed with him, and I can't believe how fast he is growing and what a little person he is becoming and I absolutely can't stop myself from kissing him everyday, as many times as I can on the cheek, and telling him I love him anytime during the day. I'm sure he has not a clue what it all means, but I'd like to believe he also loves me when he pats me on the back as he hugs me, when he openly gives me kisses and when he runs to me after a short stint of not seeing me, as if it's the happiest he's ever been to be reunited with me again.
I know these thoughts on love are all scattered, but I have just been thinking of how much I love Jordan and how that love will be multiplied for Ethan, or if it will?! Part of me is scared that I won't love Ethan right away, that I will resent him for the time he is taking away from Jordan and me, because I'm already in love with Jordan. I'm scared I will have the same reaction to Ethan that I had with Jordan.. only with two kids and already loving one, that would be highly awkward and desperately sad.
I know that's probably silly to most people, especially those with two kids who will reassure me otherwise, but I'm being really honest. What if I don't fall in love with my child immediately like so many moms and it takes time again?! And then I think of my own struggle with a new sibling, and wonder how Jordan will handle it. I know we have to involve him and help him love his little brother, but I am scared out of my mind because I remember how not fun it was to share the limelight with my new brother. Hopefully I was just a very obnoxious six year old too used to my life as an only child, whereas Jordan has only been around for about two years. Hopefully Jordan is better than I was.
The L word. What will it mean to me when I have two kids to love? Will it grow inside of me? Will I have more capacity to love?