Romance Versus Reality

I read a neat little story once about a young author who sat in an editor’s office one day, trying to sell the older man on the idea of publishing his poetry book.  “What are you writing about?” the editor asked.

“Oh, I’ve written lots of poems on the theme of love and romance.”

The editor looked him over thoughtfully.  “So what is love?”

The poet began to rhapsodize about moonbeams, romantic scenes, candlelight, heartfelt passions and deep longings.

“Nonsense,” the editor replied.  “Love is getting up at 2 am to warm up water bottles and soothe sick children.”

My mind goes back to a song that was popular for a short time in my teens.  I forget the name, but a young man is telling his girlfriend that she’s eighteen now, old enough to get away from home–she should marry him and they’d go see the world on his Harley-Davidson motorbike.  Maybe in a year or so, if they’d have a baby, they’d add a sidecar and be a trio zipping down the road on his Harley.

I’ve thought of that song often over the years.  Firstly, because life has showed me time and again how totally unrealistic that picture is.  What about freezing rain, dust storms, greasy hair, dirty diapers, teething, ear infections, temper tantrums?

I also think about it from the angle that so many of us were too naive to realize just how unrealistic it was.  A lot of us were young and sheltered; we had seen so little of real life.  Our parents had supplied all our needs so we never gave a thought to who was supposed to buy the gas for the Harley, food or clothes for both of them, or–“in a year or two”–diapers and formula.  My folks were older when I came along and I was raised as an only child; I had zero experience with babies before I had one myself.

Large families do have an advantage.  When parents have a number of children, they can’t make each one the center of the universe, little Superstars with Mom & Dad in supporting roles, supplying their needs & wants, taxiing them here and there.  Where there are a number of children, the oldest ones especially grow up knowing more about what it takes to make a home work.

Some years back we were visiting in a home where the couple had six children: three teenage boys, one middle child, a three-year-old and a two-year-old.  After the meal I watched the oldest son lift his little sister from her highchair, clean her face and hands, and send her off to play.  And I thought, That boy will understand far more about what makes a home, about love in action, than all these romantic images we’re fed in songs nowadays.

Reblogged from
Originally posted Feb 11, 2012


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