In my TEDx talk on motherhood, I mentioned that love for a child grows. The talk is too short to give depth to all the concepts I carefully inserted into it but every so often, one of them hits me again and it’s like crashing into a barn door… of love. Today, it’s the feeling of growing love.
Love is not a quantity. We seem to be taught that by being asked who is our ‘best’ friend when we are children, but that’s clearly rubbish. No, love is not a quantity. It’s not just quality either. I can love people immensely but have very little to do with them. It’s not about deep or shallow either. It’s about how much we are invested in someone. The more I am invested in loving you, the “more” I love you.
This afternoon, I came across a photograph of my newborn son on day one. He is 5 and a half months today and when I saw that photo, it hit me. I recognised him so well in that little newborn face already! I saw his manners, his facial expressions, all his little quirks in that photo. I saw so much more of him than I did in the three-dimensional, multi-sensory real life when I was holding him a few hours after probably our most violent interaction ever: my labour, his birth.
So why did I see so many more dimensions of him by looking at a projection of a moment than in the truth of reality? Because I know him so much more now. I have spent almost 6 months pretty much 24/7 with him. That helps. It may seem obvious, but there’s more to it than that.
That’s exactly what I mean with “Love grows”. It’s like a rendering of a fractal. At first, you see a pretty blob. Then, you spend the rest of your life looking and looking, seeing more detail, seeing more personality, and the more you look, the more there is to see.
Since that photograph, he has grown and developed, sure. But on that photo, he is himself already, and that’s what is so amazing. He was not ‘a blank slate’ at all. He was a complex, beautiful person then already. And all the richness of his individuality had not yet amalgamated in my mind and in my heart to form “my son” yet. But it has started to do so and it will keep doing so, and it will keep evolving as life flies by.
Already, when I look at a picture of my son’s first smile, it’s like an accelerated flashback packed with every smiling moment we’ve shared together so far. And as time races and experience adds up, the memories themselves may become less detailed and realistic but I don’t forget. The memories take root in me as something I can’t describe with images or words anymore. I just feel it, I feel him. It’s love. I’m forever bonded and vulnerable to that beautiful person; I’m not whole without him anymore. And I wouldn’t change it for the world.