Love, a Many-Splendored Thing

Embrace all the feels that stretch beyond the “traditional” notion of love and discover why experiencing all forms of love matters to your kids

By Cheryl Leahy | First printed in the January/February 2022 issue

There are all types of love in the world, but the Disney/Hallmark version seems to constantly distill love down to only the romantic type. If you think about it, romantic love is ONE situation out of the dozens of love relationships you experience. 

Embrace the multitude of types, situations and flavors of love knowing that they all contribute to enriching your life in one way or another. Children learn by example, and by sharing all the ways we love, we show them that all types of love have a place in their lives now and forever.

Love of a child

Just when you think you have mastered the art of parenting, the rules change, you step into the next phase of life. Feelings for your child may be a roller coaster of emotions, wrapped up under the love umbrella. Fear-based love that makes you grasp tightly to keep them safe. Pride-based love that makes your heart burst when you see them using their talents and abilities to their greatest potential. Despair-based love when they are hurting, knowing all you can do is be a net to catch them when they fall. And joy: Joy-based love when you see your child embrace their individualism and independence, becoming the human being they were meant to become.

Love for a younger you

This is a biggie. So many times, when we look back on our past, we see a string of missteps and mistakes. What we don’t think of is all of those twists and turns are what brought us to who we are today. We did the best we could with the information and abilities we had at the time, and accumulated lessons learned along the way. Love your younger self more by reserving judgment and looking back on the years with compassion and grace.

Love for an idol

Do you believe that you can love someone you have never met? People’s words can inspire to the point of eliciting a physical response. As you listen to them speak, you find yourself nodding along, heart soaring, whispering “yes, exactly!” They connect dots in your mind and heart, helping you feel understood and inspired. This form of love might be one-sided, but it enables a powerful tide that can guide you to an enlightened space.

Love of a shared history

There are people in most of our lives that we have stories of “way back when.” These individuals watched us develop and grow, make mistakes in judgment and hairstyle choices. They might not be exactly in line with who you are today, but have seen the evolution of how you got there and rode the waves alongside you. 

Love of a comfort item

Lovie. Blankie. Stuffie. These comfort items from childhood definitely exhibit the physical signs of a life well-loved. Tattered and torn, loose stitches and matted fur. They say you never know what you have until it is lost, and as a parent whose child has ever lost a beloved comfort item, a truer phrase has never been uttered. The love for your favorite stuffed animal can be your first love, the feeling of being incomplete without it, needing it to bring peace to your being. 

Love of play

For adults, play can be a forgotten space, fallen through the cracks of responsibility and duty. But play is what truly allows you to shed the expectations, judgment and worry that comes along with life. It allows you to be light in a world of heavy, cast aside the question of “Am I good/talented/smart enough?” Because with play, there is no right or wrong, winning or losing. The simple ACT of play is a loving win in and of itself. 

Love of a medical professional

We have all encountered medical professionals in the past year, whether they deal with our physical health or mental health. To have someone fully invested in helping you be the best version of yourself, that is definitely a type of love we all need in our lives. Therapists are working around the clock to enable us to make sense of new realities. Health workers are tirelessly toiling to improve the quality of our lives, to ensure that we are able to see another day, walk another step, breathe another breath. 

Read More Stories from the January/February Issue

Why We Need to Stop with the Toxic Positivity

Can too many positive vibes have a negative impact on our mental health?

Family Neighborhood Guide: Visiting Royal Oak with Kids

Get to know Royal Oak with these places to eat, play, explore and shop.

Everything You Need to Know About Universal Pre-K in Michigan

Read on for details about the Build Back Better Act.