Last night, after my son apologized, we talked about how families are...that we love each other, "warts and all," I said. He looked at me with this puzzled face and I went on to explain... "When we love someone entirely, in spite of their faults and we still like being around them, we love them warts and all."
I was raised with the notion that because someone is a family member, you should automatically feel something for this person...Not always so. Shared lineage does not a family make.
We don't really get to choose who ends up in our families, we just have them. We sometimes cannot reconcile the fact that they are indeed sharing the same genetic codes, and in spite of that, we have to distance ourselves. We don't like who we become when we are around them, or too many arguments, (besides those that occur at the dinner table over which way food should be passed), too many hurt feelings, too much bad drama. You can tolerate being in their presence for brief, highly controlled situations, and then move along. You take one for the team, to keep the peace, but there is no allegiance.
Families usually start when a boy meets a girl, they have babies, their babies have babies, and so forth...but families are cultivated with love, history, shared stories and concern for one another. And that often includes people we choose to include, that don't necessarily share Granny's ability to touch the tip of her nose with her tongue! Bird of a feather, flock together kind of thing...and that sometimes means taking the good with the bad.
And isn't this especially true of marriage. After the wedding dress is preserved and stored, after the monotony of daily life sets in (because it does), the warts really start to appear. They are very easy to spot on our spouse, but every once in a while, we see shadows of our own warts staring us in the face. When you really love someone, you can acknowledge all the warts (his, hers, ours), all those imperfections that make us, at times, intolerable, and still love them and the person they are attached to. It is not that you are blinded by your love for this person, you just love them enough to look past it, and they return the favor. And if you are really lucky, you might even get a running joke out of one or two of them.
Warts and all is the cornerstone of parenthood, I think. We love our children desperately...we give up sleep, sick days, our waistlines, sanity, and bank accounts because of our love for them. But that love does not diminish our abilities to see our children as they are. At least for me, that love gives me a sense of clarity when I look at my children as a whole. I can see their imperfections, and as their mother, perhaps I can help them fine tune those that need tuning.
Our warts shouldn't be a barrier or something that prevents us from the love of another. They are there to remind us that we are constantly in need of improvement within ourselves. That there is always the opportunity to improve those things in us that seem to make us uncomfortable. That if we love ourselves enough, we can really make those changes. And maybe, just maybe, if we can diminish our own warts, we might just be the inspiration for someone else to do the same for us. After all, there is always more to love without the warts...