Today during a mandated sweep and clean operation of Julia's room a discovery was made by her brother.
I've been thinking a lot of thoughts lately, about love and feelings and since it's almost valentine's day maybe I've been inspired by candy hearts and decorative fat babies with arrows.
Different kinds of love have different prices out there in life. There's the kind of love you have for those first loves, those mistake loves that are how you learn what love is and isn't. You lose part of yourself in them, and you change based on what you learn. Sometimes there are loves that could've been the RIGHT one but the timing was wrong, and the price of the regret can be unending. You'll always wonder just a little bit "what if?"
The love for your children is different. My own experience was that the moment I became pregnant I began to change, and the fierceness with which I love my children is not quantifiable by man. A friend once said "I'd not only take a bullet for my children, I'd take a slow saw to the neck." That about sums it up to me. There is nothing I wouldn't do for them. I get annoyed when I have to get out of bed and parent in the night, don't be fooled. I don't leap out of like a fairy and flit about full of joy and happiness. But when there is coughing, or retching, or other sounds that aren't sleeping my eyes pop open and I listen. I get up.
Sometimes I open my eyes in the middle of the night and listen intently to them sleeping. In the room next to mine, just a few feet from my head, three boys slumber. I can hear the one who snores, and the one who rolls around and flops in his sleep, and the one who giggles in his sleep. I listen intently for the sounds that are the three of them. The girl is further down the hall and I'll have to creep down the hall and peek for a good inspection.
Then I go pee because I'm up and gravity is a thing and I had four kids so give me a break.
The love of my children has become a currency I'm paying in another way. I started working out because I was over 300 pounds and had a heart incident. It started out as vanity, I was ashamed of how I looked. I was ashamed that arthritis in my knee was keeping me from using stairs at work. I was ashamed that I tried to do aerobics and collapsed on the floor crying after 7 minutes.
I vowed I wasn't going to shop in fat girl stores any more. I was going to be SKINNY. No one was EVER going to yell rude things at me (they still do btw) and I was going to make sure no one could EVER refer to me as fat again with any sort of basis in reality.
Then eventually, despite that voice in my head saying all the stuff above, it became about being more healthy. My heart condition is a real thing. I actually have a couple of different things happening heart-wise, one because of the other, and they have names and sound super scary and everything. They are the sort of things that aren't really that big of a deal if you are healthy and stuff. They are the sort of things that people ignore and then one day they have heart failure and everyone goes "Wow dead at 50 who knew X could kill you?"
X can kill you. X will always kill you.
But the reality hit me in 2015 when both of my parents up and died. The first thing was that they'd both died of X, those things that might've been handled so differently if dealt with earlier. The second thing though was the reality that suddenly my brothers and I were orphans. At 46, 36 and 26 we now were on our own. Yes we're all grown but it was a sobering moment because you never really think you'll be orphaned yet there we were.
My own children are some day going to be orphans. I have two children who will never, ever be able to do for themselves. The other two, if I died today, would be very sad but would also be FINE. They're smart, they're capable. The Jesuits say give us the child for the first seven years and we'll give you the man well, she'll be 7 this year and he's 14 and frankly - while I don't WANT TO DIE now, I'm not afraid of what will happen to them. I know solidly in my heart they will be fine.
But my twins....will not.
They need me and/or their father alive as long as possible to care for them. Maybe some day to over see where they go live when we can no longer care for them. So I go to the gym. I try to watch what I eat (some days more than others let me tell you). I am running. I'm terrible at it, but I also hate being terrible at things so I keep going. So when I'm sweating and I'm hurting, I'm paying part of the currency of love. I'm paying the price of loving them so much, and I don't regret it.
I regret eating whatever I wanted for 20 years, but not for loving them this much. I lift weights on Tuesday and Thursdays and push myself to run up that hill even though my legs are about to brick. I push and push and push. I have to lose more weight, not tons, but more to ease the strain on my heart from all this extra fat. I need to build strong bones and keep them as I age so that I'm not made weak too soon by the toll of years.
I'm putting it off, this aging thing. My vanity likes the smaller sizes but my heart likes it when it gets to NOT take blood pressure medicine and when the ridiculously expensive tests don't find anything bad beyond what's known.
I could say I want to stay alive just because I'm selfish and I want all of my days. But actually I want my days so that I'm here not just for me, but for them. That's the price of loving them. It's part fear, it's part just plain love. But it's real, and it's a currency I will gladly pay until the day I die.