As I’ve gotten older, I’m even more amused and intrigued by the difference between what people say and what they do. I truly value the people who have those two things align, but I know it’s so very rare. Sometimes it’s a good thing, like when any of us get upset and talk about what we feel like doing. But sometimes, it shows a real disconnect in terms of what we imagine we would do for someone and where our boundaries actually lie. Nothing says it for me more than the phrase “but I would go to the ends of the earth for you/him/her”.
Back when I was at university, I lived in The Netherlands but went back to New York often to see my mom and brother and catch up with old friends. This meant that every few months I’d be doing the airport run, often with multiple suitcases (one checked bag for stuff on one side of the Atlantic that wasn’t available on the other and one carry on wheely). I will never forget the period when I briefly got back together with an old flame, you know the type – a first love who will always have a soft spot in your heart no matter how long it’s been. Anyway, we got back together briefly, and he was saying all the right things. He wasn’t being manipulative, we were just falling in love again. Cuddling close, he told me that he would go to the ends of the earth to be with me. It made me feel like I was really making the right decision reconnecting with him, even if I knew I’d be returning to Europe to continue my studies. A few days later, it was time for me to fly away, and I asked him if he wanted to come with me to airport, to see me off and do the airport goodbye. His answer? “Well, it’s a bit far.” I could laugh for days about it now.
Fast forward a couple years, and I was dating Dean. Thanks to delays in my flights, I was going to be stuck in Amsterdam airport, only flying down to Maastricht (the little city I studied in) many hours later. I could take the train, but with big suitcases, it just wasn’t going to be feasible. He didn’t even pause before offering to take the train up and retrieve me and help me back home. Three hours on the train each way. So yeah, Dean is a wonderful person and an amazing man for me, but he has never told me that he would go to the ends of the earth for me. He just does it.
And I think about the people who have told me that they would do anything for me, or more recently for Harley. It’s a hard lesson that I’ll have to teach her, about trust and to believe what some people say vs others. But I’ve been pretty damn lucky so far. Sure, there are those who drop the ball or disappear, but also so many wonderful people in our lives who have gone the extra mile to make Harley and my life better and easier. From my awesome coworkers who understand that my day to day rhythm is different with a baby, to the brands who are happy when I bring Harley along for business meetings. From my sister-in-law who was willing to babysit so I could attend a morning showcase and drove me to the hospital just about every day Harley was in NICU, to my non-baby-oriented friends who are still happy to hold her, to watch her, to interact with her. From new friends who go out of their way to invite us over for coffee, food and play dates, to old friends who have bought her gifts or given her wonderful hand-me-downs. Her incredible god parents who continually go out of their way to help, who have spent countless hours playing with the munchkin so I can have a break, who find the coolest outfits for the baby fashionista, and who already show her so much love that I never worry about what would happen to her if the worst had to happen to me and Dean. And my mom, who is a fountain of ideas and perspective and laughs – I actually want to write a whole post about how my view of her and us has changed since having Harley, but that’s a post for another day.
I am so lucky to know so many wonderful people. And Harley is so lucky to grow up with all kinds of lovely and diverse adults and kids in her life. I want Harley to learn about the true meaning of friendship, of closeness, of love in all its forms. I want her to see how people who care about each other come through for one another. Obviously Dean and I will be the main models of that behavior, but I think it will be great for her to see how it plays out with those closest to us. And I suppose for her to also see that not all relationships are forever. Some people enter our lives and never leave, and some people are only there for certain periods of time. And both situations are okay, there’s nothing wrong with relationships ending, it’s a normal thing, although it seems to be a trend in the lives of a lot of people I’ve been talking to lately. But hopefully she learns who she would go to the ends of the earth for, and who she should believe would do the same for her. Like so many things in life, it’s way easier to say the words than follow through with the actions.
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