Chapter One: Love

Warning:  the word “love” is used no fewer than 132 times in this post.  Using the same word over and over again is one of my pet peeves, but I can’t find a way around it.  If this is a grammatical trigger for you, discretion is advised.

Out of respect for my last post, I have been keeping a running list of things that pop into my head regarding Jefferson, motherhood, and everything in-between.  It seems most logical to start with the feeling that consumes me the most:  love.

For me, love is something that didn’t really click until I was almost 27.  I had experienced the love of my family my entire childhood.  I developed incredible friendships in high school that have lasted 16+ years.  Romantic love was the one I struggled to grasp.  I don’t remember the moment it clicked for me, but it was monumental.  I realized that my love was a choice.

That simple.

I do not love someone because I need them.  I do not offer my affection because I need another person to fulfill me or make me happy.  Another man’s wallet will not support me, and I am not smaller if I don’t have a partner.  My love is something that I choose to give, and I only give it to those that deserve it.  Bradley is the perfect example.  I am not married to him because I need him.  I married him because it is my choice to.  Each and every day, I wake up with the choice of loving him.  He respects my choice by being a loving and faithful husband.  The best part is that he also has this choice.  We both invest time and energy into our marriage out of respect for those choices.  I do not take him for granted, lest he decide that I no longer deserve his love.  Our love is not out of our control (and if you know me, you know that control is my favorite).  While this description of love may not be the most romantic, it is the one that feels most true to me.

I tend to take this viewpoint with most of my relationships.  I only invest in those relationships that feel reciprocal.  I am never obligated to stay in those relationships, and the other person is always free to choose to walk away.  Neither party is helpless to the whims of love.

Until Jefferson came.  The love I have for Jefferson is primal – I did not learn it or study it.  When he was placed on my chest, I loved him instantly.  There was no other option.  He did nothing to earn it or deserve it, aside from being born.  He has thrown up on me, screamed five inches from my face, and, for many months, my happiness was of little interest to him.  None of that mattered, nor has it ever since April 12, 2019.   He can do nothing to cease the love I have for him.  Despite years of creating a rational definition of love, Jefferson has shattered every notion of that love.

I have heard that when your child is born, they will be the person you love the most.  I’m not sure I feel that way.  I can’t compare the love I have for Jefferson with anyone else.  In fact, I can’t compare any of the loves I have.  Jefferson is in a league all his own.  He is my firstborn son.  The love I have for him is not the same I have for Bradley – comparing them would be comparing oranges and applies.  It is not that I love him more.  It is that the love I have for him is all consuming.  It consumes my thoughts, my time, my intentions, and it directs most of my behavior.  The love I have for Bradley is uniquely different than that.  Still great and good…but different.  There is also the love that I have for both of them, my family.  The way I care for them collectively is different than how I see them individually.  So, I can’t compare them.  It wouldn’t be fair to.  It isn’t necessary, either.  Every relationship in my life only makes it more beautiful.  Why ruin a good thing?

At times, I wonder how I will ever be able to love another child as much as I love Jefferson.  The answer:  I won’t.  A second child will carve out a love all his/her own.  That love will also be unique.  What I do know is that my heart is capable of expanding beyond my imagination.  I had no idea how much I could love someone until I met Bradley.  Then, again, when I met Jefferson.  If I’m lucky, I will experience that same expansion many more times in my life, whether through family or friends.

Maybe that is where the love I have for Jefferson came from.  It came from generations of love, on my side and Bradley’s side.  Out of the love of my parents, I was born.  My marriage to Bradley is an expansion of their love for one another and for me.  Jefferson is a further expansion of all of that.  Maybe that is really what his first year of life taught me.  Love is capable of being more and bigger than I ever thought.

Jefferson One Year (30 of 52)
I love him more than the curls on his head.
Photography by me.

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