My little Livie Kate,
Someday, someone is going to tell you about real love. It might be a friend, it might be television, it might be the starry eyed lovers in a movie you watch at the mall. But someone is going to tell you what they believe love is and isn’t.
Someday, you will think you’ve fallen in love. Your heart will race when you think of him; you’ll want to talk to him all the time; you’ll spend your time flipping through Bridal magazines. You will believe that no one, not ever under this sun, has ever felt like you do about him.
This is not love.
This is what the world wants you to believe love is, but, really, it isn’t.
Love is what happens after you think you’re in love.
Love is cleaning up after your pregnant wife vomits all the time for nine months straight. Love is picking up the dirty socks on the bedroom floor after you’ve told him 23,201 times that you can’t stand dirty clothes on the floor. Love is going to his favorite restaurant even when you’d prefer Panera, which he can’t stand.
Love is when he goes to the store at 3 am for baby formula–the baby formula he told you that you were out of yesterday and you promised you’d get–and never says a word of complaint. Love is working overtime shifts so you can build your wife the bathroom she so desperately wants.
Love isn’t chocolates or roses or candlit dinners with violins playing in the background. That is in love, which is a totally different thing.
Love is what happens later, when you live and learn and fight and play together. Love is when it’s no longer about you want, but about what your spouse wants.
This is love, my Olivia Katherine. What you see between your father and I–that is love, even when we don’t like each other. This is a steady love, which, I think, is my favorite kind.
And this is what I wish for you. A love that is for the ages, a love that will mature over a time, until you are no longer separate branches but have become one tree with roots so deep a hurricane can’t blow you apart.
Until then, watch your father carefully. Watch how he sacrifices for his family, watch how he loves me, watch how he cares for your and your brother. Take notes, Liv, and measure all guys against him until you find one that meets all your criteria.
And then fall in love.