When I was young I thought Love was romantic and passionate and burning. I thought that Love was what people sang about. I thought it was something that hurt so badly that you had to sing about it or write about it. I still prefer to listen to music with meaningful lyrics or that tell stories of lost love or unrequited love or burning love (I also like music that has a good tune or is a bit daft. For example, yesterday I was listening to one of my all time fave groups, The Beautiuful South, and their songs are far from romantic, just really clever and witty). I know now that this isn’t what Love really is, but there is still a small part of my younger self that thinks it must be incredible to feel so deeply for someone that you pour it all out in song lyrics.
Yes, I am a self-confessed romantic when it comes to music and books. I could read Jane Eyre or Far From the Madding Crowd all day long, or watch soppy films (the film of Jane Eyre is pretty good, actually). But, in my real life romance has a very small part; it’s not credited on the cast list and it doesn’t really get much work as an extra on the film-set of my life. I’m not complaining. I worked with a lady years ago whose husband bought her flowers every Friday. I thought it was a lovely thing and used to say how romantic he was. He was a big lump of a man – very unassuming and kind. She eventually told me that actually it was anything but romantic. It was a habit. He’d done it a few times and then realised that she probably expected it so just carried on buying them every Friday. She said it would be far more romantic to get a bunch of flowers just once in a blue moon, just because. Not out of habit or some sense of duty. I can see that now. I also found out a few years later that she had been having an affair with our boss for years behind her husbands (very broad) back. I buy myself flowers most Fridays from Aldi. Not to make K feel bad (he wouldn’t anyway) but because I like flowers and they make me feel happy.
No, romance is not a word that would be associated with our household. We don’t bother with Valentines Day, we quite often don’t bother with Anniversary Cards. We definitely don’t do PDA’s. We hold hands very occasionally in public. We rarely kiss in front of anyone other than the kids and that’s not often. But we hug. A lot. And we ALWAYS tell each other that we love each other before going to sleep (unless I’m already comatose, or if K is away). We tell the kids that we love them and hug them a lot too.
But that’s not what Love is about for me. It’s not about declaring on social media that my spouse is the most wonderful person in the world or posting selfies of the two of us and #love. The majority of selfies we take are with quasi-ironic pouts or Quasimodo grimaces. No, that’s “show” love. That’s the social media equivalent of the couples that insist that they are “as much in love now as when they first got together” or that are all over each other like cheap suits the minute there are more than 3 other people present, just to show everyone how much they still fancy each other. Seriously? That’s not real.
Obviously, there are different kinds of love, hence the title Love, Love, Love. I love my parents and brother beyond belief. They are the people that shaped me and helped make me who I am (for better or worse) and who still know me better than anyone else ever could. Then there’s the Love that I have for my kids. The “you can have the last piece of cake because Mummy probably shouldn’t have it anyway” love that means you would give up anything for your kids – even if you actually really, really wanted that last piece of cake. That hold the hair out of their face when they’re being sick Love, the Love that comes out when they need to tell you something that’s scaring them or that Love that you have when they are hurt and need you to make it feel better. That Love that stops your heart beating for a few seconds and makes your stomach drop through the floor when you think you have lost them (metaphorically or ACTUALLY lost them like that time at Stockwood Park years ago, or in Wilko’s last weekend – A both times).
And there’s the other Love. For him. The Love that makes me smile when he says the same thing that he has been saying for 20 years. The same idiotic reply that I set him up to say, because I KNOW that’s the answer I will get. The Love that has us both starting the same conversation at the same time. The Love that ignores the grumpiness, the sulking. The Love that forgives the stupid little digs, the nagging or the taking of a bad mood out on each other That Love doesn’t need flowers or Valentines cards. My friends know me to be very disparaging and dismissive when it comes to my spouse. I roll my eyes when there is mention of romance and I cringe when people talk about sex. I make no bones about K being a bit clueless when it comes to handling emotions or coping with my sometimes teary moods. I am always wary of talking about undying love, forever love. No-one knows that they will be together forever. We can hope and we can trust that it will work. We make vows in front of family and friends and we promise to take care of each other, but love doesn’t always last and even the most solid-appearing partnerships can fail spectacularly. And being the eternal pessimist that I am I have never allowed myself to think of forever. But, for now, I know that when I need him, when I REALLY need him, K would step up.
So, yes I can’t lie and pretend that I haven’t dreamed of being swept up in the arms of Mr Rochester. Or of being the subject of a Tom Odell song. But give me an hour spent in the company of my parents, or a cup of tea made by one of my kids or give me a hug from the man who will allow me to put my freezing cold feet on his legs to warm them up in the night and I will be more than happy.