love is a verb…

My boyfriend started a new job two weeks ago.  Since we’ve been together, he’s been “retired”.  He took a 3 year break from a stressful career, got divorced and re-met me (we knew each other when we were just college kids).   He’s been spending his free time chilling out with his dog and with me and my children, preparing himself for this inevitable and necessary return to work.  Because of his jobless status, he was quite happy to help with all sorts of domestic and child-rearing chores, and now we are adjusting to a new routine, and a new kind of life together (read: “It looks like I no longer have a house-boy.”).

One of my Lent projects is to make sure I hug each of my children every day that I’m with them.  I’ve noticed recently that sometimes I forget to do this!  It seems unbelievable to me that a day could go by without hugging them, but this has been a trend as they’ve grown older.  Obviously the kind of physical relationship I had with them when they were smaller has changed.  I don’t touch them in the same ways I did when they were little: they feed, bathe and clothe themselves, sleep in their own beds, and walk around on their own two feet.  And because they are teens, they don’t always act like they WANT to be touched, but as soon as I put my arms around them it’s clear that they need this kind of love from their mommy.

My counselor once told me that love is about proximity.  Specifically she said this to me when my binge-drinking (now ex-) boyfriend was out-of-state trying to get a foothold on recovery.  She pointed out that this was the perfect physical arrangement for which to be able to love him at that time.

There is a certain distance, both physical and emotional, that one needs to find in order to love another person maximally. This proximity is, of course, different in each relationship, and I suppose waxes and wanes and changes over time. It seems we are always negotiating these boundaries in relationships.  How close to another human being can we be and still remain loving to them in our actions and thoughts?  Is it possible to maintain a loving relationship with someone if we are too close and don’t have enough space or time apart? What may work well at one time (as in the case of my relationships with boyfriend and children) will change over time, and boundaries will need to be renegotiated.

It has been said that “love is a verb”.  Love is action-oriented and firmly rooted in the present moment and when I lose sight of this, I run the risk of moving apart from those I love even when we are physically present to one another.  I don’t have answers, only questions, and the desire to remain fully present and loving to each of my dear ones from the ever-changing, necessary and appropriate proximity.


20 thoughts on “love is a verb…

  1. You are interesting.

    My husband and I went from being apart for weeks on end (he was a commercial fisherman) to living together on a daily basis. It was difficult to adjust but there were a lot of sweet moments too. Now we work together and it still works; some days better than others. Life has been one long transition.

    The hugs with your kids will be restorative, you can feel it already.

  2. Hi Chris

    I want to comment, but will do that later as I’m in a rush right now. But I have time for two requests right now.

    I have just read another person I RSS (just like I have done your site) and I found a common thread between his post and yours. That prompted a post of my own in my head. For that post to move from my head to my blog, I need permission from you and the other blogger. So here goes.

    1. Could I quote and link this post of yours when I comment on the other blogger’s site? I have just written to the other person asking him if I can divulge his site out here. If he’s cool with that (which I strongly suspect he will be), I will most definitely add it here.

    2. If I get the go ahead from both of you, AND I manage to go ahead with the idea of a future blog post that I came up with when I read both your posts just now, could I then quote and link this post of yours in my own (future) post?

    If I’m too vague and you need more clarification, please ask, Chris. I don’t get a lot of PC time and I’m in quite a hurry at the mo.



  3. Thank you very much, Chris, for being quick to agree and of course, for agreeing in the first place.

    This is MJ’s article I mentioned.

    He said, “Amish”, you said, “Lent”. In my head, same difference. Kidding. I meant, they’re linked. Sorta. To me.

    I only hope I get time to jot down those connecting dots. I have another post ready for 1 March. If I go with this, I’ll also have to write to each of the four people I “borrowed” photographs from for that post and sound them about the (possible) shift in date. 😦 But this thing in my head would really make sense (sez me noggin again) now because it’ll still be early in the Lenten period.

    See what MJ meant about “Kate brief”? She just doesn’t know what ‘brief’ means. 😉

    Thanks again, Chris!


    • Chris, it’s so nice to virtually meet you through, our mutual friend Kate. Kate is one of the sweetest, bloggers, nay – human beings – that I have met while blogging. Any friend of hers is a friend of mine.

      Will have to follow you now.

      I’m so looking forward to what she’s cooking up as I’m not seeing a huge connection, but she always pulls something together that’s fascinating and thought-provoking.

      I think she’s really doing it as a birthday tribute to me – the 28th of Feb. hehehe
      Right Kate??

      • Hi, nice to meet you too! I am also curious about her post and look forward to reading it. Happy birthday in advance! Will look forward to rummaging around on your blog… -Chris

      • Huh? Swollen. Head. Can’t. Think. Or. Thank. You. Enough. MJ.


        P.S.: Chris, my PR team is top notch, as you can see. Nothing but the best to pull the wool over my readers’ eyes so marvellously.

  4. A warm post written with perspective and humility—it’s always a pleasure to read your work!

    The idea of hugging your kids each day for a Lent project is great!

    • thank you George. Hugging them is more pleasant than a few other things I’m doing for Lent! I’ve learned not to go broadcasting those deprivations around though, you know, just in case I blow it somewhere mid-Lent…

  5. Pingback: Giving Up. And Taking On. « For You, Daddy!

  6. Just stumbled across this via Thestrugglershandbook. Such a lovely post. My kids are still little and very huggie but I hope to remember to challenge myself in the same way as you have when they get a bit older. Always good to be reminded about important stuff like this. Thanks.

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