Before I ever became a mother, I saw myriad posts and comments from parents about being in love with their child, or about falling in love with their newborn. While these sentiments sound wonderful and heartfelt, I have made the conscious decision never to say those words about my child.
Because I didn’t fall in love with my son. Falling in love implies a conscious act, a gradual process of getting to know a person, understanding that person’s mind and soul, and allowing yourself to be pulled under a tidal wave of emotion that accompanies the deep act of love.
Loving my son was not a conscious decision; it was inherent, like breathing or blinking.
I could not have resisted loving my son even if I had tried. When you have a living being growing inside of you who you wanted and waited for, your love grows right along with it.
Another reason the phrase “in love” with my child makes me uncomfortable is the implication that a parent could fall out of love with their child.
Don’t get me wrong – my son has done plenty already in his short existence that has frustrated and angered me to the point where I don’t particularly like him in a given moment – but I could not NOT love my son.
He is a part of me, the very best part of me, and to not love him innately and unconditionally is a disservice to the love that brought him into this world.
The Greeks recognized six different types of love: eros, philia, ludus, agape, pragma, and philautia. These different types of love are associated with the concepts of sexual passion, deep friendship, playful love, love for everyone, longstanding love, and love of the self. The idea of pragma, or longstanding love, has to do with fortitude, longevity, patience, and tolerance.
That is what loving a child requires.
People can fall in and out of love many times throughout the course of their life, but a parent’s love for a child does not wane.
I do not love my husband the way I love my child because the circumstances surrounding each relationship are completely different; to say I fell in love with both of them is misconstruing the development of our relationships. I realize that fortitude and patience are also necessary for a happy, lasting marriage, but they emerge in different ways than they do when parenting a child.
Both are important, but they are not the same.
I love my son. Without a doubt. I loved him as soon as those two little lines on the test appeared. That love has only continued to grow since his arrival in the world; loving him was an unconscious act. I am not in love with him because I did not choose to allow myself to develop a relationship with him; I was chosen to be his mother, and because of that, was powerless to resist the love I feel for him.