Big Ideas, Self Reflection

How My Concept of Love Has Changed From 20 to 30

I had a wonderful holiday with my family. We are a blended family of four kids with very active coparents. Our holiday traditions include the build up of frantic texts with other parents and long car rides to cart our kids back and forth. We celebrate secular Christmas and my heart was very full Tuesday morning watching our children open their gifts.

I feel more filled with love than ever before in my whole life. Growing up, I had the sort of bland childhood that leaves one feeling vaguely cheated, without understanding the bigger picture. In my 30s, with the small amount of self-awareness and insight I’ve managed to scrape up over the years, I suspect my parents didn’t know how to manifest the love they felt for us. I’m sure it was there looking back, but I never felt it as a child.

I have a marriage stronger than I ever expected to find. I have four great kids who have done a lot more to make me a better person than I have to them.

I am filled with gratitude for what we have. For the first time in my life, I feel financially secure and money doesn’t worry me very often. My husband and I worked hard to build this life brick by brick.

Love has been on my mind this holiday season.

It could be that I’m secure enough to look past my own needs at the needs of the greater community. When I see a cause that resonates with my heart, I can usually find $20 in my pocket that won’t be missed. I can afford to work less, volunteer more.

It could be that motherhood is an exercise of your kindness muscle. The process of becoming a good mother is neverending and you can never be certain if you’ve reached it or not. You simply have to give and give and give and give. When you think you’ve got nothing left to give, your children will require more anyways. You must find new ways to refill your cup. You must find extra cups, fill them with magic and caffeine, and convert it to love at 1 am, 3 am, and 5 am.

It could be that I’m just older and wiser. The frustration and anger of my 20s have slowing subsided. I used to be outraged by politics. Abhorred by organized religion. Disgusted with the patriarchy.

Now I’m more focused on the actual targets of my frustration. I don’t waste my passion being outraged by politics in general. I write long and thoughtful letters to specific congressmen and I never miss a vote.

I made a shift from angry atheist to proud secular humanist. I understand now that religion can be a strong force for good on the individual level. Although secular humanism in one way to seek out a better existence, it is not the only way.

Patriarchy exists and there’s a long path forward toward equality. But day to day I find myself more frustrated with the way feminism is used to sell glitter-crusted office supplies to #bossbabes and #girlbosses. I enjoy earning an income but I feel fulfilled when I focus more energy managing my big family and household.

In short, I feel less and less that life can be sliced into little pieces of us versus them. Everything and I mean everything, is more complicated than that.

Even the concept of love itself seems to be dragged into partisan fighting. The far right insinuates that love is weak and misguided when it comes to budget matter or public and foreign policy. The far left embraces love as a founding principal for their beliefs and fails to see the level of hate they demonstrate towards those who disagree with them.

I still believe that love is the answer and the path forward for the things that matter to me. My big values, like how best to maximize human potential, and my small values, like how should I spend my time every day that I’m alive, are both increasingly guided by love.

I feel that the best way I can improve myself moving forward is to continue digging deeper for ways to demonstrate love more often and more deeply. For me personally, this means things like learning to better manage my road rage.

I feel the best way I can make a difference in the world is to find a way to bring a message of love to other people who are willing to hear it.



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