Dear Pre-Baby Me

Dear Pre-Baby Me: You Already Know What Love Is

Dear Pre-Baby Me:

There’s this thing you’ve been hearing from people lately. Good people. Well-meaning people. People you love, people you respect, and even people you don’t even know. They all say the same thing:

“You don’t know what love is until you have a child.”

It’s a lovely notion, isn’t it? That the best things in life are yet to come, and that even though you’ve had some pretty amazing experiences so far, they’ll pale in comparison to the euphoria that will envelop you when you become a parent?

On the other hand, it’s also deflating to hear your experiences diminished, however well-intentioned these people might be. You feel dismissed — as though you’ve been denied membership in an exclusive club of feelings-havers.

I get it, Pre-Baby Me. I’ve been there. And I’m here to tell you: these people are wrong.

You already know what love is.

You know what it is to love your family: the parents who raised you, never faltering in their support and devotion. The sister you grew up with, moving seamlessly from best friends to sworn enemies and back again a thousand times, because that’s what sisters do. It’s a love that swaddled you from the day you were born, and that you sink into like your dad’s favourite armchair every time you see them.

You already know what love is.

You know what it is to love your friends: the ones you’ve known since childhood, and the ones you met as an adult. The friends you see often, and those who’ve fallen out of touch. You know the joy of shared memories, secret jokes, and late-night laughter over dollar slices after a few too many drinks. It’s a love shared by kindred spirits, that slings its arm easily over your shoulder to show you that you aren’t alone.

You already know what love is.

You know what it is to love someone who’s wrong for you: someone who’s unable or unwilling to love you back the way you need. The person whose life you contorted yourself trying to fit into. You cut your teeth on this complicated and painful love.

You already know what love is.

You know what it is to love your pets: those first innocent souls in your care. The ones who curl up next to you in your loneliest times; who greet you at the door each day; who look at you like you’re everything. They’ve taught you what it is to have someone depend on you — body, heart and soul — for a lifetime that will be all too brief. It’s a fierce and tender love that sits beside you in silence, brushing its tail against your arm at the exact moment you need it.

You already know what love is.

You know what it is to love your husband: the person you found in the most unexpected of places, and now can’t imagine life without. The one who showed you anything is possible; who inspires you to be better every single day. The only other person in this world who speaks your language. It’s a straightforward love; a steadfast love with deep roots in the earth, and outstretched limbs swaying gently in the wind.

You already know what love is.

Pre-Baby Me, there’s just one kind of love you don’t know yet: the love you will have for your child. The child you’ve dreamed of, who will be knit together in your womb and whose presence will always echo in your veins. It’s a visceral love; one that will sprout from inside your belly and slowly grow until it spills out of you and fills the room.

It’s a new love, yes — a specific love, and an incredible one. But don’t ever let them tell you it’s the only love.

Because you already know what love is. You’ve known it all your life.

Signing off (how else?) with love,

Future You.

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