etc columnist - Alexia Rowley

Alexia

Alexia

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Now love really is in the air

In the month of Valentine’s, while I wait for a lorry full of cards from secret admirers to appear on my doorstep, I can’t help reflecting on love itself. Since becoming a parent I have experienced a love like no other. But the thing that surprises me the most about love is not only its many forms, but its many stages depending on where you are in your life and age.

As a teenager, love was often painful, embarrassing, unrequited and full of self-doubt; ‘would Craig Skirman look at me on the bus to school today?’, ‘oh my goodness Sam Bell just asked me for the time, that means he loves me, right?’. It was so all consuming and intense. I might love someone so completely one day, yet a month later the object of my affection may be someone entirely different, and still feel like the real thing. Sadly, many of these experiences were imagined (it turns out I was never destined to marry Macaulay Culkin) or at least a little embellished by my imagination.

My first date was such an event, I had built it up and imagined a scene not unlike one of my favourite romantic films. Unfortunately, it was more comedy than anything else. My date invited me to McDonald’s, then proceeded to buy two ice creams. I, of course, imagined one was for me, but I was wrong. He went from one to the other, alternating eating his two ice creams! He didn’t even ask if I wanted some. We then went to play football at the local park with his friends. Not what I was expecting when I had carefully chosen my first date outfit and new shoes! It certainly changed my views of dating for a while.

As an adult, my experiences of love have grown and changed, as have I. I have been surprised by this. I assumed love was static but it isn’t. Each new connection is a new way of loving someone. In my 20s love was giddy, fun, up and down and frivolous. By my 30s it was committed partnership, long term, more respectful and calm.

The way I love members of my family has also changed – since becoming a parent I have deeper respect and understanding for my mum. Before I loved her, but as a child, the women who could make everything better and knew all the answers. Now I see her as a woman who sacrificed and worked so hard to be that to me, strengthening the love I feel for her.

Most surprising to me has been the unconditional and complete love that I feel for my children. From the day they arrived I loved them. I never imagined you could love someone so completely who you have never even met before, but I did. I don’t only love them when they are kind or say the right thing. I don’t love them because of what they give me or how they make me feel. I love them for everything they are. No questions, no expectations, no conditions. The purest love I have ever felt.

So while my lorry of cards from admirers may not appear, I have learned a lot about love in its many forms and hope that it will continue to grow and change throughout my life. So far, I have found it to be like a fine wine, it gets better and I appreciate it more with age.