This week we’re lighting the candle of love. I’m not 100% sure that’s the right advent candle for the week, but we’ve done it now… And I’ve been itching to do this post on love for weeks now, so I’m glad I finally can.
You see, I’ve been keeping another secret. My new friend Amy took our kids for a few hours on Remembrance Day and that night she made a video of their afternoon together. At that time I was still in the process of deciding whether or not to take a week-long course the following week, but when I saw the video (and couldn’t stop crying), I knew I didn’t want to add that stress to the family. I wanted to do things with the kids like Amy had done that day — make cookies, laugh and relax together stress-free. I realized again that my life is about loving, especially loving my kids.
Ironically, it was less than two days later (when I was three days late) that I was laying on my bed on Saturday morning waiting for Marc to come back from one of the little local towns with… can you guess? A box of overpriced pregnancy tests, and a toblerone, because can you imagine what I was thinking?!
I’ll tell you what I was thinking. I was thinking:
- There is no way I will be able to finish my degree, at least not for a long time. (Unfortunately a half a masters in philosophy and a half a masters in counselling will not make a whole masters in anything.)
- I did miss one pill this month.
- My tidy plan of becoming a counsellor when Olivia is in her first years of school (in 2 years) will not happen.
- In fact, my life has now been “set back” five years. Possibly seven. Because if we have one baby now, we should really have another shortly after so this little “surprise” baby will not be alone.
- Marc and I need to watch “The Family Stone” immediately so that I will see that having five kids will be good and fun when they are grown.
- I have to push another baby out. And while that is my favourite thing in the world, that is only my favourite thing in the world after it’s done, and I will panic about it for the next 38 weeks.
- How did this happen? I will now refer to Marc as the “one hit wonder”.
- This baby will be born in the summer. No holidays. No trips to BC or the States or the New Brunswick trip with our old university friends we were contemplating.
- I always said I refused to be upset if I ever found out I was pregnant accidentally, so I better stop feeling this way befor Marc gets back.
- Where will we put this baby? In the closet? The closet where the mice were coming in last winter?
- I love maternity clothes.
- I don’t even need to take a pregnancy test. I am certain I am pregnant. My boobs are achy and I suddenly feel very in-tune with my uterus.
- Is my sense of smell suddenly better now?
- WHAT AM I GOING TO DO???
You get what was going on? I was just slightly freaking out. All the while, in the back of my mind I’m being repeatedly reminded of Thursday night’s epiphany that my life is about love. And I was very likely being given another chance to love. Love a new little life. I really wanted to be happy about it. There was no reason for me to be so distraught over this, other than the fact that I thought life had turned out so well in terms of the kids going to school and me having a vocation. Other than the fact that each of our kids was planned down to the month and that my body was always completely regulated (I’m so glad my ovaries have my personality), and it was disconcerting to have things seem out of my control.
But really, I had nothing to worry about. We could handle another baby. And Marc told me later that he felt all warm inside driving on that cold winter day to pick up the tests.
The results? Negative. But this negative was not followed by the one thing that assures not-pregnancy. And so I took three more pregancy tests over the next week and a half (all negative). Just to be certain and to be sure that I could start the pill again at the right time. But then I was worried all this month that my body was all out of whack and what if we got pregnant this month?! We were very careful. And school stress is the best way to bring about celibacy in a happy marriage. So, now that this month is over, I am happy and relieved to report now with absolute certainty that there is no Vanderbaby on the way.
But what does this really say about me and the fact that I think my life should be about love? I don’t really think that Saturday of panic, then tears, then relief make me a failure; I know I would love a little Vandersurprise in the end. It would just take a lot of reorientation in my thinking and my life. And I really struggled with the idea that living out love may take the form of giving birth and going all the way back to the baby stage which feels like it was long ago.
So all of that to say… love isn’t easy. Sometimes love has to be deliberate. Sometimes love is a struggle. Sometimes its inconvenient. Sometimes I can’t even love a possibility, let alone a reality.
I just finished a big paper about my personal theory of counselling; it was all about love. Counselling should be rooted in love. Unless people’s journeys are met with love, unless they know that the deepest, darkest parts of themselves can be met with love, we will always live with the fear of being known as our “real selves”. But it’s love that can transform and bring hope. Hope even for when we fail to love.
So, yes, life is a journey to love. And because it’s a journey, we’ll never grasp it fully. We’ll love well, but we’ll also fail to love and to be loved. I don’t really like to think about when I am hurt and when I hurt others. But if we’re going to fully love, we need to face those moments when we fail to love, and see that love can even grow out of those moments. That Saturday of panic was an example of the struggle that love can be, but it reminded me again that though I may fail at it, ultimately, Love never fails.