I’ve seen an article on this before, but the New York Times printed an article on how you can fall in love with anyone. I have to admit, I’m intrigued. For maximum effect, you should ask each other questions first, and that makes sense. It’s all about priming yourself to bring down your boundaries. I can’t recall ever doing the staring-into-each-other’s-eyes for four minutes with any man. Four minutes is a long time. But, I actually have done this with Rowan.
For a long, long time–since I’ve been a child–I’ve been obsessed by eyes (okay, and skulls too). Growing up painfully introverted, eyes were a sign of judgement, disapproval, or ridicule–and I feared them. Now, as an adult, I like to paint and draw them, and I like science macro pictures of them in all their filament glory. But looking directly into someone’s eyes for a prolonged amount of time is a vulnerability. It can be hard to go that deep if you’re afraid to be seen. I may find it hard to do with adults, but I don’t worry about it with my girls.
A while back, Rowan had a school concert. One of those things where I ended up losing half a day, because it was 2.5 hours longs and they had a dental appointment afterward. As soon as she entered the auditorium, she looked for me. I’m always near the front, and difficult to miss, so she found me. That whole concert, she had her eyes locked on mine and I could not stop from tearing up.
It wasn’t about the songs, it wasn’t about the audience–it was about us. For me, having kids breaks all those walls apart. There is a vulnerability and a raw power to a child’s love. I know that Rowan sees me, sees me as I truly am, and yet still loves me. That may change as she grows older, and I accept that. But still, to sit in semi-darkness, with her full gaze boring into me, I realize that I have forgotten that this is what is real. I don’t know quite how to describe it. I don’t believe that she belongs to me–she belongs to herself. I am her steward. But she is my daughter and we are bound together in this life. It is beautiful to be bound so.
If there is one responsibility I have to her, it is to teach her to love. I consider these years as setting the blueprint. To feel what it is to be loved, so that in the future if there is a “love” that robs her of her dignity, of her respect and of herself, she will be able to tell that it is a fake love. Love requires work and effort, but it should not require that she diminish herself. I always tell her the truth, even all the complicated bits–and I assume she can handle it. She will need to someday. I love loving her, and it’s great that it is so easy to do so. It may not always be that way, but right now, I enjoy this part of my life.
What’s interesting is that I can fully jump into this for her, but it can be harder to do it for me. I remember talking to my doctor when I was so unhappy and considering divorce. She pointed out that kids observe everything–that my staying in something where I was miserable was teaching them that this was normal. Would I want them to be going through this? And having made the choice to end it, I made sure that when the divorce was happening that the kids could see how adults would handle something so painful with integrity.
But now that chapter is done. I am blessed with great friends and family who truly love me. If my world was crashing down at 3:00 am and I needed help, there is more than one person I could call. The love I have in those areas is stable and wonderful. The great thing about love is that when you have it in one area of your life, when you feel that stability and acceptance, then it is easier to take risks with your heart. Because like most anyone, I would very much like to be in a romantic love relationship. I would like to experience love again, I would like to be seen again, I would like to connect to someone in that deep way. And for that to happen, that means being open to possibility. Knowing that you can’t always direct the flow of things, but you can be vulnerable, without walls–knowing that nothing in the future is set, but that every moment can still be enjoyed.