Unconditional Love Makes No Sense

Unconditional Love Makes No Sense

Mother’s Day this year has brought something quite important to light: unconditional love is the most irrational and illogical thing in the world. Yet, it is still one of the most beautiful things we humans have.

Biologically, evolutionarily, psychologically, economically speaking, the very premise of something like unconditional love is impractical. It makes no sense for a person to give their entire lives to someone, to love them and be with them despite everything. In a relationship founded on pure unconditional love, you stay with that person and continue to love them no matter what happens. Even if this person hurts you, even if you’re giving way more to the relationship than they are, you love them and you stay with them. That’s insane.

There’s no better example of this bond than the one between a mother and her child. If you think about it, children are essentially parasites. First, they feed off of your body and wreck your internal system for nine months. Then, they leech off of you for the next 18 years, draining you of your money and time. Your life as a parent becomes inherently centered around “the children.”

“Oh, sorry, I won’t be able to go out tonight, the kids have a dance recital/soccer game/band concert.”

“Oh, I’ll definitely try to make it next weekend, but the kids want to make Halloween costumes this year.”

“Shoot, I can’t have coffee with you; I have to pick up the kids from school and take them to piano and karate and a class board meeting and…”

And there’s no guarantee that you’ll have a payout. It’s like the world’s worst government bond. Having children is a high-risk investment. There’s no guarantee that your children will turn around and pay you back when you’re old and in need of them. At the very least, there isn’t an immediate payout for all that you invest in a child.

Yes, we can argue that parents do get emotional payouts for watching their children grow, and they get happiness and that weird bubbly feeling of pride as they watch their kid succeed in life. That’s very valid, but that again speaks to this idea of unconditional love. It’s not their accomplishment, but they’re still so happy for their children. That’s love. Even when the child doesn’t succeed, even when they mess something up, a mother still loves her children. That’s unconditional love.

A parent isn’t getting some evolutionary, survivalist, or economic gain from sacrificing so much for their children. They aren’t helping themselves survive by giving up so much for their kids. But they do it anyway. They undertake the selfless act of raising a child, and it’s all driven by this unconditional love that says, “No matter what you do, I’ll always love you.” Love is an enigma by itself, but unconditional love is truly something else. It is beautiful. Think about how much a mother sacrifices for her child, without any logical or rational reason except for love. That is incredible. I had the privilege to witness this love just a few days ago, and when I stopped to appreciate what I was seeing, it truly moved me.

Last weekend was my senior prom. Now, my mother and I are not incredibly fashionable people. We don’t spend too much time fussing over hair and makeup and dresses. We get what we need to look decent enough, and then we move on. Besides, we have more important stuff to worry about, like careers and education and physical health and the next episode of Law and Order or The Office. But just one time, at my senior prom, we both decided that I would go through the whole nine yards to look as much like a princess as possible. As I sat getting the hair ripped off of my arms and legs and the tears stabbed out of my eyes by a makeup brush, as I tried on dress after dress, and twisted my ankle on heels too tall for me, my mom stood by me faithfully, fussing over me and making sure everything was perfect. She would come home after a full day of work, barely even able to keep walking, but she would still go out to brave the stores with me and help me get ready for prom night. Even when she wanted nothing more than to go home and finish up her work so she could relax for the night, she sacrificed all of her time for me, making sure that my dress fit properly, that my shoes wouldn’t crush my feet, that my hair wouldn’t fall out, or my makeup wasn’t a shade too dark. It wasn’t her prom. It wasn’t something that she had to do. But she did it all anyways. All because of that unconditional love. No matter what happened, she never lost patience. She stood by me through it all.

That’s a mother. That’s what they do, whether they have to or not. That’s amazing. That’s unconditional love.

That love is what keeps us alive. We know that psychologically, a child’s early years are critical to development, and a parent’s support and role in that development greatly influences the child. The nature vs. nurture debate has been going on forever, but there’s no question that both have a huge effect on children. A mother’s ability to nurture is what keeps a child alive and what assimilates them into life. Biologically, humans always nurture their young, but this isn’t always the case in nature. Skunk mothers, for example, devour their eggs if they think there are predators nearby, while harp seal mothers care for their babies for the first twelve days and then bolt outta there. For species like them, you could say the whole unconditional love thing doesn’t ring very true, because these animals are rational beings and do what it takes to keep themselves alive, even if it means giving up their young.

In humans, there is no rationale for our emotions. This bond of unconditional love, when formed well, lasts for a lifetime, even when the mom is done raising her child. It’s amazing how human mothers do what they do.

Unconditional love is truly a beautiful phenomenon. So, I say to my mom, I love you and I always will, and thank you for always loving me, too.

Cover Image Credit: Vipul Gupta

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4 Reasons Why Dads Threatening Their Daughters' Boyfriends Aren't Funny

No guns, threats, or creepy infringement on their privacy necessary.

This week, former NFL player Jay Feely caught Twitter's attention by posting a picture with his daughter and her prom date and a handgun.

While the comedic undertones of the photo are obvious, Twitter had a lot to say about the picture and most people weren't happy.

He has since issued a statement of clarification after the tweet went viral, acknowledging that gun safety is an important issue and clarifying that he was in fact joking. Unfortunately, though, the damage had already been done.

Feely is far from the only dad who's ever made this joke. It's a largely prevalent theme specifically among gun owners and in country music. Check out the song "Cleaning This Gun" for another example. It's catchy, I have to admit, I just listened to it again voluntarily the other day even though I don't agree with the central message.

But what's really the matter with this picture? After all, it's just dads being dads, right? Wrong. The political, historical, and gender-specific rhetoric behind the idea of dads protecting their daughters by threatening their boyfriends have all combined to create a lot of things wrong with this picture. Here are 4 of them.

1. Gun violence is no laughing matter

This theme has come up over and over and over again this year but it's one that continues to be relevant and timely. Gun violence is a very real issue, with thousands of deaths, dozens of mass shootings, and deep political biases, making it far from a joke. While there is a major difference between the handgun in Feely's picture and the assault weapons that have been at the center of recent mass shootings, threatening to shoot someone, particularly an unarmed teenager, is just poor humor.

2. Parents do not get a say in their daughters' sexual choices

From chastity rallies at churches to purity balls entrusting their sexual purity to their dads to presenting "virginity certificates" to dads at weddings (hint, you can't medically prove someone's a virgin), parents' obsession with their daughters' sexual behaviors, not their sons', mind you, just their daughters, is creepy, intrusive, and disgusting.

Decisions about whether or not to engage in sexual activity, at any point from high school to marriage and on to the rest of their lives, is up to the two people involved, not the parents, the church, the government, or any outside parties. By reinforcing the idea that the parent is in control of these decisions that their kids are supposed to make for themselves, parents like these are perpetuating archaic ideals, destroying the trust their children have in them, and setting them up for destructive sexual behavior down the line.

3. There is an extremely obvious (and dangerous) sexual double standard between boys and girls

While young women are told to guard their purity and that engaging in sexual activity makes them less worthwhile people, boys are encouraged to use sexual conquests to assert their dominance and their behaviors are not focused on nearly as much by parents, religious organizations, or sexual education programs.

If women are taught to remain virginal until marriage and homosexuality is frowned down upon, who exactly are these boys supposed to be having sexual conquests with? Beats me.

4. Sexual repression and rape culture go hand-in-hand

These parents criticize their daughters for participating in safe, monogamous sexual relationships but do not give the same attention and threats to people that threaten their wellbeing. By teaching your daughter that she can't trust you, you're setting her up for trouble down the line.

While this entire situation could be passed off as a harmless joke that got a little out of hand, it's obvious that the problems run deep and can have a lasting effect, especially on the girl at the center of the "joke." Bottom line, trust your kids. Believe that they have the self-respect and the critical thinking skills to make healthy relationship decisions and support them in making them. No guns, threats, or creepy infringement on their privacy necessary.

Cover Image Credit: Jay Feely: Twitter

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I Am My Anxious Mother's Daughter

And on my bad days, I want her to remember this.

I am the daughter of a mother with an anxious mind. We live by our lists and choke on our worries, but damn do we have it together. With so many loose ends pin-balling through our thoughts, sometimes we’re prone to forgetfulness. You’ve seen us before—our hair is often frizzy, our eyes tired. But our minds—they’re running wild. It’s dizzying. They never stop.

As soon as I walk down the stairs, as soon as she gets that good morning text, I know she can see it. Maybe it’s intuition, maybe it’s connection, maybe it’s just plain and simple: a mother’s love, but whatever it is, I know that she sees it. And I know that she worries.

But she shouldn’t. She prepared me for this. With her as my mother, I have an armory of determination, adamancy, and purpose. When my head spins the way it does, it is hard to not demean myself for the twisted way I go about things with such rigidity, such worry, but I know that I am valued for my order, my neatness, my prudence.

It’s exhausting, but we’re stubborn. It’s unlike us to turn down a challenge. We’ve learned to stop fearing the whirlwind that is our every day. It’s a part of us as much as the fine lines beneath the creases on our cheeks. We have worry lines, yes, but we have smile lines too. We’ve been figuring this out together. It’s a one day at a time kind of process. The irony of bonding through worry is not lost on me though.

But my mother, anxious mind, oversized purse, and all, is a through and through badass, and she’s turning me into one too. She is the strongest and strongest-willed person I know. She takes everything head-on with unmatched confidence. She has everything in order to a tee (even though she rarely think she does), and her loved ones rely on her for a sense of order and harmony in their own lives.

And I see that order (which I’ll admit borders on too rigid sometimes) seeping into my own habits.

Asking my roommate at 10 in the morning what we should make for dinner that night.

Sitting up in my bed, still half-asleep in the middle of the night, suddenly jotting down lists of chores to be done.

Planning my trips and even just my average days in what I think to be the “most logical” order—which yes, is entirely arbitrary.

And I can catch clearer glimpses of her in myself every day—on my crumpled up sticky note to-do list, reminding me of the articles I have to read (and write), the papers I have to edit.

I see her in my knack for planning even the most mundane events step by step, so as to not miss a detail.

I don’t let life happen to me. She taught me how to do that. She taught me that nothing is really out of my own control. She taught me that my strength is in my independence, and as long as I can keep myself and my loved ones in line, there is little that can best me.

They say as we women get older, we start to become our mother, and I can only hope that’s true.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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