At the Heart of Love
by Dr. Maureen O’Brien
Posted on Wednesday, January 29, 2020
Parental love is like no other. As Elizabeth Stone once said, “It’s to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Even before your little one was born, you likely felt awe about who your baby would turn out to be. And you committed to love this new being and keep her safe. It’s impossible to fathom parent-child love in advance; one has to experience this type of love. Of course, it’s equally impossible to maintain that depth of positive emotion all of the time. Other powerful feelings are also at play in our everyday life with our children, and that’s OK. Parenting isn’t about loving your child to the exclusion of other emotions. It’s about loving your child DESPITE those emotions. It’s about loving a baby through colic, loving a toddler through a tantrum, loving a preschooler who says she hates you. It’s a lifetime commitment.
The knowledge that there’s no walking away from this parent-child relationship is humbling. Being your child’s first and lifelong teacher is both amazing and daunting. But parents need to understand that a love like this can be overwhelming without support. We all need to reach out in exhausted moments to others in the Parent Tribe. They, and they alone, will understand how you feel – how this deep, stirring love can morph into raw anger or stark resentment at times. Only they can walk you through those difficult moments until you can once again express pure love for your child. And, trust me, you will.
I firmly believe that surviving both the highs and the lows of parenting is what makes parents superheroes. Our superpower IS our love.