Tuesday, February 10, 2009
For me, unconditional love only exists between me and my dog and then it's really only one way from him to me. He's always glad to see me no matter how long I've been away or how mean I was to him the day before. If only all relationships could be like this. Alas, as humans, we are poorly equipped to maintain our side in any relationship, even with a dog.
We remember things said and done that hurt us or offended us and we view the object of our love through the prism of the past. Perhaps the only time this isn't so is at the birth of a child. They have no history with us and so our prisms are clear. If only we could hold onto that vision of our children no matter what they do.
When they're small, it's easy to look at them and remember the infant lying in your arms, all innocent and warm. As they get older that becomes harder. And that's right. They're no longer that babe but a person that has feelings and desires and needs that reach beyond you and your ability to give. One of the hardest things about raising children is to let go of our own expectations for our children and let them find their own way. Sometimes our expectations are the same but often they are not. We must let go of the child we dreamed of and mourn their passing, if only in our own hearts, before we can accept the reality in front of us.
The unconditional love from parent to child should be able to weather anything that child throws at us. From crayons on the wall as a toddler to wrecking the family car as a teen and even to coming out to us as transgendered or homosexual. Some things they throw are way are easier to field than others, clearly, but it is part of the job description to love them no matter what.
For me that means accepting them as they are not as I want them to be. I wish that my trans friend's mother could remember this. She is holding on so tightly to the child she wants to see that she doesn't realize the damage that she's doing by refusing to call him by his new name. What's in a name indeed.
I see it as my job as a friend to accept him as he is. It's easier for me since he is not my child, but I hope that I would be as supportive if he was. Regardless, there will always be days when he irritates the shit out of me and even the occasional one when I'm ready to walk away, but that's only human. And it has nothing to do with his gender. No matter how often we butt heads over stupid things, we always seem to find a way to forgive each other and move forward.
That is really the true meaning of love. Accepting someone else, warts and all, and sticking by them no matter how much you might want to give into the urge to punch them in the face or to walk away.