Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Stranger Danger

I'd like to talk about love.

I've never been the type of girl who goes around loving everyone.  As a matter of fact, most of the time I can intuit within the first minute of meeting someone if I will even LIKE them, much less love them.  I know that's probably not the best way to go about things, and occasionally I find that I'm totally wrong about someone, but truly, more often than not my intuition is spot on.  I don't know what chemical or brain function or spark in the universe causes love, but I find it interesting to think about.

When I was pregnant with both of my children, I assumed (even the second time, when I knew better) that when they came out I would instantly recognize them as my own, as PART OF MY TRIBE, and love them mercilessly.  I didn't.  Hell, they whisked Belly off so fast to the NICU that I didn't even see her.  When I was finally able to go to her later, if it hadn't been for that little name tag on her isolette, I wouldn't have had a clue which kid had been popped out of me.  I felt no recognition.  The little person I had grown for 32 weeks and talked to and played with and felt like I knew so well was an unidentifiable little stranger.  It was fucking weird.

With Sutt it was a little bit different.  I was a little more prepared to not know my kid, and he actually LOOKED exactly like newborn Belly, so I probably would have recognized him (but not if he had been born first).  He was still a bit of a stranger though.  I probably loved him more at birth than I loved Belly, just because he was a little bit familiar, and because he wasn't immediately taken from me so we had time to bond.  But I don't go around loving strangers, so that ain't saying much.

I realize that this sounds terrible and you're all judging me and thinking WHAT A SHITTY MOM!  WHO SAYS THAT?  But, you know, whatever.  The truth sucks sometimes.  I don't care.  Because as I got to know my little humans, I realized that I wasn't SUPPOSED to immediately recognize them.  I didn't HAVE to instantly be madly in love with them, I just had to protect and care for them.  What I never knew until I had my own kids is that babies don't come straight into the world 50% you and 50% their father.  You don't KNOW them because they share your DNA or the DNA of the one you love (or, at least got knocked up by).  Regardless of their genetic makeup, they are their own little people, with their own looks and quirks and personalities.  You have to get to know them to understand who they are.  You have to learn to love them for themselves.

And now, 12 and nearly 10 years into knowing my kids, OH MY HEAVENS HOW I LOVE THEM.  More and more every day. They are complete pains in my ass, they bicker all the time, but they are smart and kind and well-mannered and hilarious.  They are WEIRD AS FUCK.  They take the term "nerd" to a whole new level.  And it's more obvious than ever that they are NOT just half me and half B.  Bellamy's facial features and hair are B, made over.  But she's built exactly like her Aunt Sarah Catherine, with those long limbs and big feet.  Her personality is a lot like a bizarre mash-up of her Ya-Ya and, oddly enough, B's stepmom, Barbara (her Grandbabs), who isn't even related to Belly by blood.  But they are so much alike.  And Sutt, my Sutt.  He has my Dad's eyes, but my eye color, my Dad's mouth, but B's exact body and movements.  He and Bellamy look nothing like.  But I love looking at each of them and seeing bits and pieces that I DO recognize, and enjoying aspects of them that are all their own.  I don't need a kid that is half me and half B.  I got something infinitely better.

They are so much more than the sum of their parts.  They are the sum of the parts of many, many people that I've cherished, laughed with, cried upon, and adored.

And that is what love is to me.

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