Even Though I’ve Had Difficult Relationships, I’m Teaching My Daughter to Believe in Love
By Jennifer Power Scott
Photo © dashpats/Twenty20
Feb 13, 2020
As the sun rose on a crisp, clear Valentine’s Day in 2004, I rushed to the hospital in the grip of the most intense physical pain of my life.
A soft-spoken nurse named Sue gave me my own bright room, a blue hospital gown and a wooden rocking chair.
“Rock it out, rock it out,” she said gently every time the pain seized my body. “You are going up a hill, and then it will peak, and then you will come down again.”
Don't be afraid of love or Robert Munsch's Love You Forever — read a mom's take on this tearjerker here.
At 3:08 p.m., the cause of the pain revealed itself in the form of a seven-pound cherub with chocolate brown eyes and matching chocolate hair. My husband and I were so enchanted with this new human that we dressed her in a red fuzzy onesie and gave her "Valentine" as a middle name.
It was big, sugary sweet, over-the-top love.
In the first days of motherhood, it felt like I would be pushing a stroller, breastfeeding and changing diapers for a long, long time. But now, our five-foot-seven firecracker of a girl is yearning for a driver’s license, playing electric guitar and memorizing lines for the high school musical. She loves fluffy puppies, cooking and Jeopardy! Years after I rocked out the contractions in the hospital chair, our daughter is rocking out to Led Zeppelin, Boston and Queen.
My funny Valentine is turning sweet 16.
That, of course, means dating and love can’t be too far away. I try to be cool with that. I try to have faith she will be careful and make good choices. I try to convince myself that in an era of dating apps, random hook-ups and swiping left, there are honest, kind, loving young guys who respect women.
But like any mom, I worry.
Since the start of my dating days in the late '80s, my heart has been sliced, diced, chopped, cubed and thrown into a blender. Still, that same heart has been shiny, full and electrified with the ecstasy of true love. I have made mistakes and I have suffered, but I have also been uncommonly blessed.
So, as my first child becomes a young woman, it’s time to pass on a few hard-earned lessons in love. Here's what I'm telling her:
You deserve to be loved
When you’re in high school, it’s easy to believe love and romance are only for popular girls with blond hair and perfect skin. But you are a beautiful, incredible person who deserves love too. Although it seems distant and impossible now, at least one person will fall in love with you and think of you as the centre of the universe. As my mother said to me when I was 16, “Someday, they’ll be lining up at your door.”
Nurture your love
I believe true love is the magic in this world. When you find it, treat it like the gift that it is. At 21, I had a sublime love that made me a happier, stronger person, but I threw it away two years later. It was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. A love that brings you joy, fulfillment and peace is a love worth caring for and celebrating.
Know when to walk away
As someone who grew up in a loving, stable home, it never occurred to me that I could wind up in an emotionally abusive relationship. But when I was 24, it happened.
A romance that began with passion and laughter turned into four years punctuated with late-night fighting, door-slamming and tears. I sometimes fantasized about closing my eyes and never waking up. Turmoil was my normal.
Once, when I caught him in a lie, he exploded and yelled, “I hate you right now!” Many months later, he said something so cruel and degrading about my body that I can’t even repeat it here. I try to tell myself his acid words didn’t affect me, but I know they did.
Bottom line: If someone oozes charm and dazzles you with expensive gifts and declarations of undying love, it means nothing if he treats you like garbage even one per cent of the time. Get out of that relationship as fast as you can. Don’t let him isolate you and rob you of all the goodness and joy in your life.
Which brings me to my next point…
Viva la single life
Being single is vastly better than being with Mister or Ms. Wrong. Savour some time on your own. Have adventures. Live it up.
Don’t be too quick to say “I do”
I’m all for dramatic, unanticipated love that sweeps you off your feet and paints your world red and gold. But I feel uneasy when I hear about people tying the knot before they have taken time to really get to know each other. My rule: Don’t get married until you have seen how your partner copes with a crisis. “When the shit hits the fan,” a wise friend of mine often says, “you see what a person is really made of.”
Always believe in true love
No matter how much the world changes, there will always be true love. My heart has stitched itself back together a few times and although it has scars, it pulses with hope, happiness and an appreciation for the beauty on this planet. I don’t know if there is a heaven when we die, but there is most definitely a heaven on Earth and it’s spelled L-O-V-E.
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