I had an interesting conversation with my son recently. He always asks such profound questions and he really wants answers. He asked me if I got jealous when our beautiful little chihuahua got more excited to see our family friend–Lisa in this case (but there are a whole host of family friends that he loves) than he did to see me when we recently returned from an outing? I responded by saying absolutely not. In fact, I love watching him get excited by our company and watching him get loved on by our friends. It was an easy answer and we moved on.
But my mind kept returning to that conversation over and over again. It was a simple question–but profound and deep. The answer was easy and quick to come by. BUT still, it nagged at me to examine it further. Why did he ask me that question? What was his ‘take away’ from my answer? Did I even answer it thoroughly enough? Why do we, as imperfect people, sometimes get jealous of attention paid to others? This kind of thinking/behavior–being jealous– leads to desires to control, bully, and monopolize. It does harm not only to those who are being controlled but to the person who feels it necessary to control or dominate. It makes us unhappy on the inside and insecure. Those feelings, in turn, drive our behavior and ultimately our lives.
I think the answer is to know that love divided is really love multiplied (cliche I know!). How my dog feels about someone else shouldn’t have any impact on how he feels about me or how I feel about how he feels about me!!! My joy is multiplied by watching him be joyful and get love from many sources. My love is deepened for him when I see how he relates so beautifully to others. I love that he can receive love and attention from from many sources. And my love for my friends is deepened when they love what I love too. I didn’t just learn this from my dog of course– I also learned it from having children. When people do nice things for my children and my children respond–it fills me with such abundant joy. It is never something that takes away joy–but only adds to it.
There is something so wonderful about watching people you love all share love with each other. I believe it is the way things are suppose to be. BUT I know that there are many human factors that block this in many people. That is not the focus of this post though. The focus is just to get people thinking on a different plane. Focus on life from a different angle. Or to just accentuate something that you may already know and feel.
We have a finite time to be here and figure all this out. It is easy to get distracted and pulled down alleys that lead to dead ends. We can and do become focused on the wrong things. Inside we may know something is missing. Some of us just feel the emptiness while others work in earnest to fill that void: They eat too much, drink to much, use drugs or have affairs. They watch too much t.v. or stay on line constantly. They don’t dare to venture out of their one relationship or they can’t seem to be committed to anyone. They may use ‘love’ as a means to control. Children see all of this and it can define their understanding of love.
So why did my son ask me this? It is a sophisticated question–and very elemental at the same time. I sit and think about this–my conversation with my son. I feel proud because I can see the wheels turning inside of him. I can see a desire to know. I can see a desire to understand. I can see that ‘the searching’ is there and I can see that even at this early age–he has a drive to transcend. He has questions and he is seeking answers. He is not oblivious to this undercurrent of life. That makes me smile.
My children help me to see things and look at things that I may not take the time to focus on or explore. They make me a better person than I can be alone. When love is around you–you gain from it. It seeps in and fills the spaces in you that you don’t even know about. Love is strange in that giving it away doesn’t lessen how much we have left to give and in many ways when we give it away–we only add to our supply! And when those you love are loved by others too–it doesn’t change your gift of love to them.
This question hits me as I realize that my little boy is now a young man. I did not have to share his attention when he was a baby and he didn’t have to share mine. A mother is the center of a babies world and the baby is the primary focus of the mom too. Then children develop friendships and get love and attention from other places. At the age my son is, he is on the cusp of moving forward and becoming even more independent. That means more people in his life. More love. More joy. Not a division of love–but a multiplication of love.
Is he wondering about this? Is he cognizant of this experience? His world is growing and maybe he has questions–or fears. While I may not be perfect– I know he feels unconditional love from me. I hope he learns not only from my words but from my actions too. And not just from me–but from everyone around him–good and bad. That time is coming for him to find his own way and–like getting love from multiple sources–getting knowledge from multiple sources can only make your world bigger too.
So we try to understand love and life. Is it easy? Not really. Do we get it wrong? Yes. Do we fail? Many times. We don’t have to be perfect because we are all just works in progress. Our mission is helping each other find the way and hopefully doing it with abundant love. How will it turn out for my son? I only have to observe him to find out. So far– I see it is turning out just fine!