As followers of this blog will know, I have been doing much soul searching the last year or so. The latest question I have been confronted with is: “What exactly is love”. Or more to the point, what is true love and how does one know what is real?
We have all read books and watched films where the couple are destined to be together, but are too stupid to see it, or too stubborn to acknowledge it, or the timing is never right or whatever. Inevitably, you sit through 90 frustrating minutes, or days of reading of how these two idiots try to get their shit together. And then? The story ends. Like that is all there is to it. But it’s not, is it?( In fact, there is a book that I am very excited to read that deals with that exact topic, but I will tell you more about that some other time- funny how things come your way when you start looking for answers, no?).
Anyways, then the credits roll and you are left to believe that everything will now be well and they will be “happily ever after” because they have found each other and they love each other. Nowhere does anyone tell you how they manage to keep their shit together. Because love just magically fixes everything.
I once made a comment to my mother about fighting “like an old married couple” and she corrected me by saying that it is not really how it is supposed to be – and yet, that is the stereotype we have isn’t it? That is what we believe happens and we are actually surprised to see old couples who still seem happily in love. And that is the weird thing to me. Two of the most important relationships in your entire life being a parent and being a spouse, and you are expected to go at it without any training whatsoever. The only examples we have are those set for us by our own parents. And everyone will tell you the same thing: you know, marriage is hard work. Which is all good and well, if someone would just step up and tell me what exactly that means. What are you supposed to be working at, exactly?
And parenting – what the hell? It is possibly the most important job in the entire world, and anybody can just go off and get pregnant!
During my first pregnancy, all I can remember is vomiting. A lot. the second one wasn’t much better, except this time round I had to vomit while trying to not piss my pants from heaving. And why, oh why, tell me for once and for all, do people think that while you are already being invaded by an alien growing inside you (I’m sorry the whole idea still freaks me out!) your body have now suddenly become communal property and you want everyone to touch your expanding belly? It was not fun. I was not a happy preggy lady. My husband calmly stood by me and put up with all the ups and downs.
And then after that, we get on to delivery. Ladies, no-one will tell you this outright. It is messy, and yes, it is true – you do shit yourself- although not always. If a man can live through that ordeal and stick around, he is probably a keeper. And, if after all that, he at least attempts to get up at night and help out with the baby, he is for real!
But these are the fun things, the exciting times, the things that have a mutual goal at the end (a baby!) and traumatic as they are, they are adventurous. It’s the ordinary, the mundane that has the potential of killing off a relationship. Everyday droning on and on. Work for money, buy the food, pay the bills, feed the children. Try to fit in some sleep somewhere and tomorrow, do it all over again. And the next day, and the day after that. Year in and year out. And the movies and the romantic books don’t tell you how to handle those days – those years that just slip by and before you know it, you are just two people sharing a house with seemingly nothing in common. You don’t laugh anymore.
So this is my conclusion on love: True love and real love are not the same things.
“True” love is for fairy tales and fantasies. It is in your head. Real love on the other hand, well, it is exactly that. It is real. It is a love that can survive through all the tedium that comes with life. It has been tried and tested, not by the extraordinary as much as by the ordinary and the mundane. “True” love can only become real once it has been verified and substantiated by the things that real life throws its way. The problem is, that unlike “True” love, “Real” love very rarely leads to happily ever after.
After the credits roll … life starts!