Love Binds

I don't think you can ever know how having a new child will affect your family. How could you? The small person that is your child shines and darkens in ways that have never appeared to you before. Sometimes there is a spark of recognition, a piece of your childhood, the smile of your sister or the eyes of your husband. But this person is new; new to the world and to the small village that is your home.

With the birth of each of my kids, I died a small death and awoke to new love. With Kid A, it was the death of my independent self, a self that spent hours reading and writing and painting, a self that jumped in the car without checking lists or shoving shoes on tiny feet. With YaYa, it was the death of having one baby, the concentrated affection, the passing back and forth of one child. And with Leaf, it was even more imperceptible, but it was the transition of YaYa being my baby girl to being my middle child. This is what felt like a small death to me. It's what made me cry, during that first week.

But the awakening! The new love, the kind of love that you never have for anyone else, not even your spouse. Love for my husband is constant and huge in me, but how many times have I watched my children sleep and felt that clutch of pity, the fierce protection that brings tears to my eyes? I've never felt love like this before having these children. It has made me intensely vulnerable, easily shaken, and yet as solid as the hills.

I've also watched each of my children's hearts expand with love as our family has grown. They open and blossom in care for one another, and this is what forms them, in addition to the love they receive from us. Leaf has never known a life without a brother and a sister. Kid A has received each of his with joy.

In all the craziness, the dullness, the frustration of parenting, love binds. Love takes a family and makes them a small force in the world. In all the ways I've changed since my first son was born, the biggest is that I am more loved, and I have more love.

It's Love Thursday, play along if you like, at Karen's blog.