Valentine’s Day, parenting and the ever evolving concept of love.

I was sixteen years old when I first told a girl that I loved her. She said it back and I felt as though the previously, serene pastures of my heart had been set suddenly ablaze by a fire that would consume my very world.

This, I thought to myself, is love.

She left me three months later after the homecoming dance and I was certain that my ruined heart would never, ever recover.

I did recover but… it was only to repeat this process of twitterpating exuberance to be inevitably followed by soul, squishing, heart break. I had grown mistrustful of my foolish heart for it seemed determined to perpetually drive me down the same ruinous path of romantic let down. Elation, trepidatiation, devastation, repeat.

This, I thought to myself, is love.

So I drank many Pabst Blue Ribbons and I did my best to abide by the bro code for within, I believed, was salvation.

Then I met the woman that would be my wife…

She was different from all of the girls I’d met before but I was by then too damaged to truly know.

Fortunately for me, before I had the chance to sabotage what would be the single greatest thing to ever happen in my life, another thing happened.

“I’m pregnant.” She said.

I remember that I drank many Pabst Blue Ribbons, very quickly when I heard this news. The bro code seemed suddenly very distant and unimportant. I was, for the first time in my life, faced with a decision about whether or not I was up to the task of valuing another’s needs above my own.

Five months later we got married at the Excalibur in Las Vegas. Our reception dinner was cornish game hen, eaten with our bare hands while we watched the red knight demolish the blue knight in hand to hand combat. Four months after that came the moment when I first looked into the sky blue eyes of my newborn baby boy.

This, I thought to myself, is love.

There is, quite simply nothing that compares to first looking into the eyes of your first newborn baby. Unlike that first romantic love which is a sort of mining of the depths of one’s own indulgent desires; the profound epiphany of parenthood is a truly earth shattering experience. To finally understand that your you-ness is less important than another human being… This is actually love.

But of course this is not the end of the story.

Ten years on and three kids later I find that I am still surprised by the depths of this thing called love.

Tonight my wife, who will leave for work before our kids wake up, made a point to hang a valentine from the ceiling in the kitchen above the breakfast table.

With everything that consumes our life, the work and the drama; the dishes and the dinners and the damned stupid laundry… With all of that, my wife still makes it a priority to leave a Valentine’s card for her favorite little men.

I see this and I am immediately crushed by the weight of how truly blessed that I am to have somehow stumbled into such a position in life. To participate in an existence where I am part of this amazingly authentic exercise in true selflessness and joy.

Forget about the small stuff; the bills and the dishes and the bedtime routines, the damned laundry… My heart overfloweth.

This, I believe, is love.