Love is a way of being. It’s less of an emotion and more of a means of creation. Loving something so deeply can transform your life. Having kids can give you the unique opportunity to nourish a non-person into a real person. Like the story of Pinocchio, it’s the tale of the transformation when a parent loves a child so dearly. This unconditional love, loyalty, and altruism of the non-person grows that person through life’s journey of mutually exclusive options; work and play, hedonism and work ethic, peer pressure and elder advice, reward and punishment.
When my daughter was born over 4 years ago, I had no idea what to expect. To be honest, I was still living in my little egocentric world where I happened to have a little non-person by my side each day who I knew would eventually grow up to be their own real person. Being a parent meant turning away from that egocentricity and re-centering on my kids.
This love is known as agape. While the word is traditionally used in Christianity, you don’t have to be religious to appreciate it. Agape has a different meaning from the word “love” that we use everyday to describe this phenomena. Agape is a love of creation. It is the highest form of love. It’s not erotic love (eros) nor friendship (philia). It’s the way a parent loves a child through their temporal growth.
Life is agape. It made you, and you participate directly in it. Somebody loved you unconditionally to the point where it made you who you are today. The small price to pay for this love is a noble sacrifice. All agape love is forgiving in that you sacrifice the capacity to love “for” it. It is “for giving” because you are constantly giving your love to others in the process.
These are the parental sacrificial themes of time, emotions, money, relationships, personal life, freedom, social life, career, food, desires, and education to name a few. These sacrifices were made to give more to you. To help you grow and realize the potential of who you could become as a person. All in the name of always giving.
A parent never retires from the job. Their words of wisdom may not even hold relevance in today’s constantly changing world, but experience is the best teacher. Even if a parent’s sacrifices don’t get the love and respect they feel are deserved at the time, the most we can do for our parents is make them feel proud of our upbringing through who we become as people.
The more I go through the roller coaster of parenting two lovely little souls, the more I feel that I owe an apology to my parents for their sacrifices and my ignorance. This newfound parental wisdom and first-hand experience has me recovering meaning of what makes a life worth living. And I like to think that they understand this salience pertaining to the circle of life. That I’m next in line and will do the same for my kids to pass on what it means to love and always give even when you have nothing left to give.