Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Love And The D-Word

Growing up, I used to babysit alot. In fact, I babysat from the age of 9 (don't worry, I was supervised!) through lawschool and up until the year Jacob was born. I've babysat for may families from Seattle to Chicago. Out of all the families I babysat for, there is one family that will always stand out in my fond babysitting memories.

I started babysitting for this family when I was 11. I continued to babysit for them until I graduated from highschool and moved to Chicago for college. During that time, I watched the three children grow from kids/toddlers to young men and women.

I loved that family. LOVED.

The mom was beautiful. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up: busy, a bit frazzled, but always confident and stylish. Just like her, I wanted to grow up to have two older boys and one girl. I had a mini-crush on the dad and enjoyed the nights he would drive me home and ask me about what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Then there were the kids. I can't begin to describe how close we grew. Nine years of playing games, watching movies, making up bedtime stores, and tucking them in. They gave me the best babysitting stories. Like the time we were all playing hide and seek and the middle child locked himself in the bathroom, put the cat in the dryer, and turned the dryer on. Right at that moment, the mom called to check up on us. Ahhh, I always had an extra soft-spot in my heart for that kid!

I always saw them as the "perfect" family. They had their flaws, but their flaws were just how a family should be flawed, if that makes sense. They were everything I wanted in my own future family: loud, rowdy, loving, lovable. Not only did I look up to the mom and the dad. I spent hours imaging my future husband and myself being just like them. I often wished I could be a part of that family. (No matter how good your own family is, when you're a kid, you can never quite appreciate what you have).

It's been years since I've seen any member of that family. I never run into them when I'm running errands back home. But still, I'll occasionally remember them and look back happily on my memories.

Today, unexpectedly and quite randomly, I heard that the mom and dad are getting a divorce. I was bowled over by the news.  Just the thought devastated me. This was the couple that I'd grown up idolizing. The couple that I wanted to be emulate. Now the very family that I had set on a pedestal was breaking apart.

Oddly, even though I hadn't seen them in forever, I began to tear up at the news. It was as if some part of my childhood past was crumbling. Something I'd always held in high regard was no longer that perfection that I had remembered. The perfect image of a family that I'd held so closely throughout my own developmental years suddenly shattered. I thought about the kids and how sad this must be for them. Then I thought about my own family. If THEY, my "perfect" family, can end up like this, can't any family? I know I only saw them from the outside and was not privy the inner-workings of the family. But still...what kind of twisted road is it that takes you from strong to broken?

It's a tragedy. That people who were once so in love can at some point in their lives decide they want to spend the rest of their years apart. Or worse, with other people. With sadness, I immediately texted my husband and kindly asked him to never divorce me.

It may be weird but my husband and I talk about the issue of divorce every so often. We both look at each other and solemly agree that we can't imagine ever having to come to that rough breaking point. It's probably trite, but we continually promise each other, over and over, that we will never come to that. That we will alway be there for each other. That we'll always give our relationship the care and attention that it needs. That if we have to get old and wrinkled at some point, we will do it together.

But isn't that what everyone says? I mean, no one gets married with the plan of someday getting a divorce, right? I'd like to think that we are special. I'd like to believe the fact that we are very different people and yet get along so well is a testiment to how we are above the big D-word. But, in reality, we can't predict the future. It saddens me to know that while I can control my own actions, there are many variables (the actions and feelings of my husband) that are out of my control. Because it really does take two to make things work. If you can only control half of that effort, you really have no lasting assurance that things will work out.

But, that's the thing about love. Whether it's love for your husband, love for a friend, or love for your children. Even if you give your whole heart, you never receive a fire-proof guarantee that love will always be there in return. It's crazy. It's unpredictable. It's painful. But, we all do it anyway. We can't help it.

It makes me think that love is both watchful and blind at the same time. You have to love with your eyes open, by keeping a look out for ways to improve, tend, and strenghthen your relationship and its deficiencies. But you also have to love blindly--blind to the uncertainty, the unknown, and the "what-ifs." We won't ever receive a guarantee that things will work, but we still have to love as if we know that it will. Because, you cannot love truly if you love with reservation.

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