When I was a kid, love was always something I took for granted. I think it's like that for a lot of kids. Love isn't something you can touch, or eat, or play with. Love is like getting underwear for Christmas. It's nice, and useful, and keeps your butt from chaffing, but let's face it--very few people are unfortunate enough that new underwear is an exciting gift.
To a child, love is cheap. They give it freely, without really realizing what it is they're giving away. They expect it in return, not because they've done anything to earn it, but because it's always been there, and as far as they know, it always will be. It's as common as air, as constant as a sunrise.
My daughter doesn't care that I'm lazy. She doesn't care that I can be just as arrogant and selfish as I can be loving and self-sacrificing. She doesn't care that I'm overweight, that I'm terrible at math, that I love 90's music. She loves me because I feed her, I keep her clean and warm, I comfort her. She doesn't love me because I deserve it. She loves me because I'm her mommy.
I don't know what happens to that mentality as children grow up. I don't know how people come to lose that trust, that faith in the people who care for them. Why, as the years pass, people become cynical, and selfish. Why the very people they loved so much as children are lucky to get a phone call once a week when they've grown.
But I know I'm just as guilty of it as anyone.
It's easy to keep believing that your mother, who has no thyroid, one lung, and a nicotine addiction will continue to defy fate and live forever. It's easy to assume that your favorite uncle, who's been fighting cancer about as long as you've been alive, will keep winning; that your grandpa, who's nearing 90, will always be there to bail you out when you don't have the money to pay the bills.
They say what goes around, comes around, and I don't want to find that, 20 years from now, I am one of those people. I want my daughter and I to be best friends forever. I want my grandkids to visit all the time, even when they're my age now.
Will I do anything about it? I honestly don't know. I want to say yes. I want to say I'll be responsible enough to remember to call my dad every couple days, to visit my grandparents at least once a month, to send my aunt and uncle a card every holiday like they've always done for me. I want to sit here and have people read this and say how inspiring it's been, how it's changed their life, how if I can do it they can too.
But I'm not going to lie to myself. I can try to do those things, and I probably will, at least for a while. But deep down, I know that's not me. I know that, eventually, life and/or laziness will probably get in the way, and I'll feel just as ashamed of myself as I did when I started this at 2:00 am last night.
All I can do is pray that those people will always know how much I love them despite myself, and hope that they will all continue to love me more than I deserve.