Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Marching into Hell

Today's post was inspired by this post on Goo Goo Dada.  Take a minute and read it now--I'll wait.  My post will make more sense after you've read his.

Amazing how much we can love our kids, right?

I remember sitting in the car with my Dad when I was about 10 years old.  I don't remember what the context was, or why he brought this up.  He looked me straight in the eye, not letting me drop my gaze or look away, and told me with quiet passion, that he would march into Hell for me.

Being the good little girl I was, I gave him an appropriately solemn response.  I rolled my eyes, looked away, and said, "Daaaaad".  The same exact way my 7-year old says "Mooooooom" when I tell him that he needs to eat his vegetables.  On the other hand, what would be the proper response to something like that?  A polite "Thank you.  I appreciate your willingness to take on eternal damnation for my sake.  I'll do my best to be worthy of that going forward."?

I remember very clearly what I felt at the time he told me that.  I was embarrassed by his sincerity, and frightened by it too.  I knew I was not worthy of that kind of love and devotion (though I didn't stop to think if any child ever could be--nor could I fathom how I would measure something like that).  Having been raised Catholic, I had not learned cynicism to doubt that Hell was real, or doubt my Dad would do what he said.  I only hoped that I would never be bad enough for us to see that come to pass.

Fast forward a few decades, and now I am mother to 2 children of my own.  And while they drive me crazy daily, minute-by-minute even, I know at my core that I love them so much, I would march into Hell for them too.  This has nothing at all to do with whether they deserve it or not.  Nothing they could ever do in this life would change why I feel this way.  It's just love.  Unquantifiable, unmeasurable, unreasonable, undeniable.  I love them more than I love my husband.  (Sorry, DH!)  Unlike my adult relationships, where my love is somewhat judging (I love you if you love me back), the way I love my children is a one way street.  Even when they are at their worst, I still love them because they are mine.  Not because they are my flesh--since I know from my own family that adoption is just as strong a bond as birth--but mine to love.  The only people I can think of that I loved as unconditionally as I love my children, are my parents.  But then again, they did a lot to earn that love, didn't they? 

I wonder if all children would be as intimidated  by such a passionate expression of love as I was.  Or if my fear was rooted in my unique life experience as an older child adoptee.  There might be something there.

Coincidentally, another of my favorite bloggers also wrote about parental love today.  Check her out!

1 comment:

  1. Unconditional Love, that's the ticket! Yes, it's a good thing our kids DON'T realize what we would do for them, otherwise, who knows, they could really run the show! Best to be a slowly formed inkling of what our parents have sacrificed for our well being. Thanks for the link! I like the description of your dad being all serious and saying that he would "march into hell" - funny, and heavy! I trust he never had to do that.


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