Our lives are measured by a cycle of love that changes as we grow from childhood to adulthood. When we’re young, our love is focused on our parents. At that point in our life, love is uncomplicated and straightforward. As infants we are totally dependent on our parents, especially, in most cases, our mother. During the toddler years, dad may become more favored as the first steps in becoming an individual are taken – think of when children’s favorite word is “NO” and later as they insist on picking out their own clothes, vehemently let parents know what they will and will not eat and test all the boundaries they’ve accepted in the past.
The first major separation is, of course, school, be it preschool or kindergarten. This separation is often hard for kids and parents alike, but probably harder for parents, especially if they have been stay-at-home moms or dads. But eventually the transition is made and things run fairly smoothly for a while. Parents are still the recipients of a great deal of love and children still accept their opinions and influence. Then comes adolescence and the teen years. Parents are still loved, although sometimes their children don’t act that way; instead, parents are taken for granted as their children become more and more autonomous and the focus of their love becomes their friends and, way too quickly, potential romantic partners.
Ah, romantic love - passionate and all-consuming - totally different from the love for parents, grandparents and friends. This kind of love is what we’re born for, genetically, as it can lead to reproduction. Romantic love is difficult for everyone concerned, both participants and onlookers. This type of love brings joy, but also broken hearts, hurt feelings, rejection, and insecurity in phases as children search for “the one.” Some of us get lucky, and we eventually find him/her and start a family, at which time the cycle starts all over again. But something unexpected happens as the former children learn about the other side of parental love - love for your children. A love so deep and all-encompassing that most parents would die to protect their children. Another genetic imperative that keeps our world populated and brings the cycle of love to completion.