Mom would cite Shakespeare almost as much as she referenced the bible. “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” She often told me the best thing she ever did “was have kids.” Her love for us was more intense than I can describe. I get it now though because the best thing I ever did was have kids too. My children don’t understand the depth of my love, in the same way, I didn’t appreciate my mothers. It’s not until you have the fate of a tiny person’s future intertwined with your choices – good or bad – that you can begin to glimpse a mother’s love. I love them so much it hurts. When they fail, it pains my soul. When they grieve, I long to take their place. When they stumble despite my warnings and preparations on their behalf, I am frustrated and anguished at the same time.
I love them unconditionally. It’s not that I don’t care when my children mess up. Nor is it that I am oblivious to their misdeeds when they occur. It is that for me, love isn’t some squishy feeling that ebbs and flowed with delight or disappointment, but rather, a decision – a promise. Sure those feelings may come and go, but they have no bearing on my resolve. I have determined to love them regardless of what changes they struggle through.
It’s not the most romantic sounding promise, but I approached my marriage the same way. Love is not a feeling – it’s a decision. When the ups and downs of feelings or give and takes weren’t always favorable to me, it didn’t matter; I was not moved. I had made a promise, a commitment, a decision and stuck by it. Initially, my husband didn’t get the sentiment. He thought it was cold. It wasn’t. My mother had told me that countless times during the rough patches. If emotion rules you-you will miss out. I likened it to fire. The flames burn you – they are unpredictable, but the coals, the embers produce consistent heat and cook your food to perfection. The flames can fly out of control or burn out quickly, but the embers can say warm all night.
Not too long ago, my husband thanked me for my decision to love him through thick and thin. I thanked him back. We saved each other. As our children get older and become adults, I’m sure they will make more significant mistakes – larger fails. The one thing they can be sure of is that we will be here waiting to love them through it.
Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand’ring bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me prov’d,
I never writ, nor no man ever lov’d.