Dark chocolate caramel, Gin, Ryan Gosling in La La Land, Gin, the smell of a new book,
Oh wait no. Those are the things I love.
No, after a week of shops dripping in blood red hearts like a bloody A&E after a particularly chaotic Grey’s Anatomy episode, I have been pondering what Love actually is.
This was, bearing in mind, while I spent Valentine’s night on the sofa with my dog, not a bleeding heart in sight, sipping red wine and watching the Valentine First Dates Special. Yet I wasn’t feeling all excluded by the couples collusion that love is a single red rose on a single day of the year. I was quite content. My daughters had given me a big box of Butlers chocolates so my Phenylethylamine (otherwise known “the love drug”, because it arouses feelings similar to those that occur when one is in love) and serotonin levels (known as a mood-lifter) were covered.
When I was younger, growing up as a teenager in the 1980’s, there was a love bombing of cartoons with a cute (and naked if I remember rightly) couple in a variety of situations, with the words Love is….. written underneath. Each cartoon had a different answer to what love is, be that something as inane as doing the dishes or as saccharine as loving every little thing they do.
It was a moment in time, an innocence I might even have bought into for a while; the idea that love is that simple. Handing someone a red rose, or taking a wet plate from them and drying it while smiling.
Then life happened and the cartoons faded from fashion and the innocence faded with them. Or I realised that love is much more complicated. Love is rarely being handed a solitary and forlorn red rose. Love is complex and tricky and comes from the strangest of places….and for me anyway, rarely come from the textbook romance of the cartoons.
They rarely came from ‘The One’ – not that I remotely believe in The One. And not because the one I married turned out to be some one completed different. We focus on the love of romance, but the loves that have – and do – sustain me most come from much deeper sources.
Love is… my friend who turns up at my door even when I never asked her to, because she knew I should have asked her to.
Love is…. seeing the first snow drops of Spring and feeling my mum smiling down at me.
Love is….. my friends making me smile every day with their contact and humour
Love is…. my girls, and everything they do, even when they are literally tearing chunks of skin out of each other and screeching like banshees and making me feel as if I am going mad.
Love is…. that exquisite scene in La La Land when Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone’s hands touch so tenderly
Love is….a neighbour calling me the other day just to remind me that she’s there
Love is….. a friend coming over to put my youngest to bed because she knows it’s exhausting
Love is….. laughter and Gin, and good books and warmth and the sun on my face
Love is…… my dad trying his best to figure out the chaos of my life and not be an asshole about it
Love is….. my brother sending me a teapot cosy for my birthday
Love is….. so many things…. and it is rarely a single red rose. It is a single rosy reckoning where we feel we belong.
Love is…. the little touches that make us feel better in a day of challenges. So how delighted was I to find out I was receiving a little gift to make me feel better in a day of challenges. I’ve said before how much I struggle with parenting alone, how much I miss the presence of another adult in the house to help mitigate the tsunami of rage, emotion, anxiety, exuberance, defiance, boldness, coldness, attention-seeking, love-needing, craft-loving, mess-making, fun-fanning, energy-exploding hormones that are three young girls. It’s two years exactly since I heard the front door slam and my new life as a single parent began. I’m not going to sugar coat it, (because frankly there is enough sugar going on in this house and most of it is in my stomach) it’s been so fucking hard I have sat on the bottom stair endless times and cried in the frustration of trying to raise three confident, charismatic daughters with the energy levels of a dying battery.
So how lovely an idea is this? A box of love and goodies just for mums. (But I think for anyone really that we love and who needs a little lift..I know mums of cat and dogs who would love this just as much, because life is hard, whatever and whoever we are.)
Sharyn Hayden writes the brilliant Raising Ireland blog, and is author of the very funny book ‘I Forgot to Take my Pill.” And now she brightens up days. I can’t wait for my box to arrive, filled, I am promised, with surprise beauty treats with a side order of much-needed giggles thrown in. If anyone fancies sending one (or making it a monthly treat) you can order them here.
It’s the little moments, the first snow drop, a surprise shot of sun on your face, a call, a text, a box in the post.
Love is….. never The One and never one thing.