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Different kinds of kisses

March 30th, 2005 · 1 Comment

It recently become apparent to me that I needed to teach my children about appropriate physical affection. I needed to teach them that there are different kinds of kisses. Some are shared between friends. Some are for sisters. And some are for mommies and daddies.

Via Ghost Words ( found via Susan Kitchens) Sunday morning I discovered Ayelet Waldman’s New York Times piece describing her relationship with her husband Truly, Madly, Guiltily. Several angles of the article could be explored: differences in libido between individuals, post-partum desires for physical affection, the foreplay of dishwashing, Mommy and Me class attendees (I’ve never had her experiences), and perhaps even the author’s strength in confessional writings (as also noted by Susan Mernit). I do think these are all interesting issues, especially sexuality after children, but for the purpose of this post I will focus on the topic related to my own recent family discussions.

Ayelet Waldman’s theme, simply stated, is that she must be a Bad Mother (title of her former blog) because she loves her husband more than her children.

If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother. I am in fact a bad mother. I love my husband more than I love my children.

Even this essence has several angles. I believe many mothers worry they are Bad Mothers and carry guilt for failing to buy the right type of diaper or notice a learning disability. It is a common fear, no matter its manifestation.

Maternal love is different from romantic love. I’ve heard of mothers who bonded with their babies intensely, connecting immediately with their child in ways they couldn’t with a man. Our children are our own flesh and blood: they will always belong to us and represent us, carrying our chromosomes and characteristics. And it can be easier to love a baby who is helpless and needy than a man who may seem demanding or insensitive. Especially if the mother is at home all day with her child, she may feel closer to the baby who shares and schedules her life than to her husband whom she only sees an hour or two a day. It’s easy to be consumed by children and to be caught up in their innocent unconditional affection, to become devoted to their devotion.

I don’t think it is good to compare loves. Measuring one relationship against another is only asking for trouble. Unless of course one is asking a question such as whether I love my blog more than my husband…;-)

Then again, in cases of abuse or other pain, women may have to choose between their children and their partner. Sometimes a good mother will have to make a difficult decision to put her children first (or even herself first) and love them more.

I wish some learned sociologist would publish a definitive study of marriages where the parents are desperately, ardently in love, where the parents love each other even more than they love the children.

But I do believe that the relationship between man and woman, husband and wife, is the center of the family. Although children may add challenges to communicating and enjoying each other, the two should still strive to be one. Ideally, the love between a man and woman endures, beginning before babies and enduring, one hopes, long after the children have left home. Parents desperately, ardently in love is the way it should be, I believe.

There is a love a woman can have for a man. And there is a love a woman will have for her children. They are potentially equally powerful. Both involve her body and her soul. Yet they each take and tug at her heart in unique ways.

There are different kinds of loves. There are different kinds of kisses.

Tags: family

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Victoria // Mar 30, 2005 at 12:42 pm

    Very well put! I am addicted to your way of saying the profound and making it sound wonderfully sweet.

    I remember my pastor once preaching on the advice of a business book to avoid the “tyranny of the or” and instead consider the “blessing of the and”.

    I agree – couple love and mommy love are different. Not better or worse, not more or less just different. Both are crucial to a helathy family life.

    I can not imagine my life devoid of either love!

    And it seems to me that they each change over the course of a lifetime.

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