Love is a Complicated Thing

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Ottawa, May 2014

Ottawa, May 2014



“Do you think Mark likes me?”

“Of course he likes you! Which kid doesn’t like his mother?”

“Well, I’m pretty sure Freud had issues with his. So did Oedipus. And Hitler probably didn’t like his mom much either—not that he was a normal balanced person but…”

“You’re just being silly. If you wanted something for Mother’s Day, you could have said so. I offered!”

“Nah. I don’t want anything from you. And he is too young for noodle necklaces or whatever shitty arts and crafts project his teacher will pick.”

Really, it wasn’t about Mother’s Day. It was about a magazine I flipped through at Chapters (yes, I know, I have to stop doing that). It was a Mother’s Day issue, where—duh—mothers were being interviewed about their precious snowflakes.

“My daughter is my best friend!” professed one. “I realized lately I love my son better than I love myself,” claimed another.

And the next twenty pages or so were full of stories of the mom who gave birth in a tree surrounded by crocodiles in Africa, the one who literally stopped a bullet by standing in front of their kid and the one who overcame so many odds to get pregnant that I was all teary by the time I was done reading.

Meanwhile, I am hiding my good Lindt chocolate eggs in the fridge because I’d rather not share them with Mark. Okay, for the record it’s mostly because he tries to eat the wrapping paper and makes a mess with the chocolate eggs (gotta eat it before it melts, buddy!), but still.

Love is a complicated thing.

When I learned I was pregnant, I was mostly shocked. It was a strange feeling because we wanted a child and Mark was definitely not an “accident” but I couldn’t believe that I had gotten pregnant so fast and that I would soon be a mother. It was kind of a “oh, it’s my turn to jump off the diving board?” moment.

I couldn’t wait to meet him, though. For 38 weeks, he was always in my mind whatever I did, everywhere I went. I tried my best to take care of him, even though it felt very frustrating because at this stage, you can’t really control what’s going on inside—you pretty much have to hope for the best and let nature works its magic.

Mark and I bonded right away. It felt right to feed him, hold him and cuddle him. I have never been a baby person—I tended to avoid holding them because they looked so fragile, so small. But it’s different when it’s your own flesh and blood. Even though Mark as tiny as newborns get, I’ve never been afraid to pick him up.

I read somewhere that babies cannot differentiate themselves from their primary caregiver. Basically, for the first few months, what’s mine is theirs.

Unfortunately, I am very much past this fusional stage and I didn’t always enjoy being a human pacifier. Even now, when Mark clings to my legs as I’m busy doing something else and crave attention, I tend to lose patience. Especially when he had all my attention all day long.

This pretty much sums up my relationship with Mark. Like two characters of a telenovela, we hug, play, have tantrums, throw things and hug again—well, he is mostly the one throwing tantrums and objects…

I miss Mark when he isn’t there but I can’t wait to get a break from him when he is with me all the time.

It used to be like this with Feng. I remember, the second trip we took together in Australia and in New Zealand, back in 2003, I started craving “alone time”. After months of sharing everything and being together 24/7, I needed some time alone, no matter how much I loved him.

One thing that surprised me with Mark is the almost primal instinct to protect him. Not for the little things—it doesn’t exactly break my heart when he bumps his head (“I told you not do to that!”), trips and falls or get a scratch. I was a bit of a tomboy myself, these are normal when you explore the world.

But sometime, I just need to “save” him from the evil of the world. Like the night we were in Montreal and discovered our hotel room had bed bugs. I went nuts. I scooped him from his bed (he didn’t have a bite, his bed was fine), moved him to the other room we were given and slept with him as if my body could repeal all the creepy crawlies.

I can’t call Mark my “best friend” because “best friends” don’t suck your energy like vampires and leave you exhausted at night. Friendship is a two-way relationship and for now, I give Mark more than he can give me. Most days, I feel like a performer after a long set when the crowd chant an “encore”—“I gave you everything I had, no more!”

Some days, I just wish he could tell me he loves me. It would make things easier.


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. He will tell you that he loves you soon enough 🙂 I have to say that I don’t know at what stage of development a child can feel love – can they feel it right away? Love is such a weird concept I guess. I watched a documentary that proved it is chemical. In fact, when this chemical was injected into mice, they could feel love and maintain lifelong partnerships.

  2. You’re showing a pic of your son running into your arms with a huge bright smile and then you say “I just wish he could tell me he loves me”.

    Zhu, you’re blind. 😀

    • I do have pretty shitty eyes 😆

      I love this picture because it was one of these precious moments. Mark is starting to express himself and his emotions better, which prompted me to think about love and all. Babies respond to their parents (or caregivers) but it does take time for them to express what we interpret as “proof of love”, as silly as it sounds. I find the question interesting, the whole love concept.

      I know Mark loves me. It’s not a depressing post (…I hope?). I just want more of these cute moments!

  3. 1. Wake up !!! Don’t you see your own pictures ?? 27986875 km away we can feel how Mark loves you !! You might be to exhausted to notice it, but never doubt about it 😉
    2. I like a sentence : there is no love there is only love proofs !
    3. Soon he will tell “I love you”, but don’t worry few time later he will also tell you “I hate you !” !!!
    4. I did not understand when you said that you give Mark more than he gives you. Maybe I didn’t get the English meaning, maybe you are talking materially but Michoco gives me so much more as I could ever give him… even human pacifier, noise, fear, tiredness, willing to be alone, and so on.
    5. We don’t say it much either, but we love you too !!!

    • Je pense que le ton de l’article est plus dramatique que je le voulais (bon, j’étais un peu fatiguée ce soir là). J’assume qu’il m’aime, mais c’est vrai que nos petits bouts ne sont pas toujours très tendres avec nous. Une amie me disait la même chose, que par exemple les calins c’était venu plus tard. Alors que pour nous, adultes, montrer nos sentiments n’est certes pas toujours facile mais plus fréquent.

      Je maintiens que je donne (et Feng aussi!) à Mark plus qu’il me donne, pour le moment. Et ce n’est pas quelque chose que je dis avec amertume, c’est un constat neutre. Philosophiquement, je comprends ce que tu veux dire et je suis d’accord, Mark m’a apporté beaucoup. Mais je fais une différence entre “apporter quelque chose” et “donner quelque chose”. Does it make sense?

  4. Martin Penwald on

    Is that because of the stupids who try to blame you for everything you don’t do like they think it is mean to be done ?
    I hear two days ago on Radio Canada a show about the difficulties of adoption, especially when parents adopt children who have been badly tramatized (horror show if we start describing here). The main problem of these children is that they naturally trust their biological parents who misbehave against them. So, after that, they are unable to bond with their adoptive parents, and it is tough for these parents. And it seems to be a regular pattern.
    So it is highly probable that Mark already trust you unconditionnally, he just can’t show it on a way obvious for an adult. Moreover, being with him almost 24/7, maybe you don’t see the obviousness of his affection for you.
    The fact that he was a velcro baby tells a lot. If he feared and hated you, he wouldn’t have stayed with you.

    • Bon, j’avais dans ma tête le stéréotype du routier 1) obsédé sexuel 2) limite ignare et voilà que je me retrouve avec le routier le plus cultivé de tout le continent. Merde quoi, c’est chiant de casser les stéréotypes 😆

      Plus sérieusement, ta culture générale et ton point de vue sur différents sujets m’impressionne 🙂

      I also heard how tough it was to bond with adopted kids sometime. It takes time…

      • Martin Penwald on

        Merci, mais tu sais que j’ai fait des études avant d’être camionneur.
        Et puis, le mythe du camionneur obsédé, c’est avant tout parce que c’est un métier d’homme, et, comme pour les marins ou autre métier qui requiert de passer du temps loin de chez soi, il est plus facile d’aller voir ailleurs. [1]
        En réalité, je ne pense pas que les camionneurs soient plus pervers que la gente masculine en général. Les proportions doivent être identiques.
        Par exemple, les calendriers de famàpwal, on en trouve régulièrement dans les lieux où les employés sont très majoritairement des hommes.

        [1] Une fille que je connaissais avait dit qu’elle refuserait que son compagnon soit camionneur longue distance pour cette raison, mais ça n’a pas de sens, parce qu’un homme (ou une femme) qui veut tromper sa conjointe y parviendra, quelque soit son métier. Si il n’y a pas de confiance dans un couple, c’est mal barré.

        • Et en plus il a fait des études… tu me le massacre mon cliché là, tu ne fais aucun effort! Pour peu que tu sois un mec sensible, c’est foutu. Tout fout l’camp mon bon monsieur!

          Ah, j’adore les calendriers de famàp­wal, j’aime le côté kitch et les femmes bien roulées. Docteur, ai-je un problème?

          Je ne sais pas s’il est plus facile d’aller voir ailleurs quand on a un métier qui fait passer du temps loin de chez soi, parce que ces métiers sont souvent accaparant. Oui, le marin/routier peut trouver une prostituée mais bon, sur le bateau ou dans le camion, ce ne sont pas des hordes de pin-up qui l’accompagne (le calendrier ne compte pas, je parle de vraies filles). Par contre, le PDG qui a des “réunions” le soir tard en sortant du taf…

          Et effectivement, un couple sans confiance, ça marche pas. Enfin, je dis ça, je suis particulièrement pas jalouse.

          • Martin Penwald on

            Je pleure encore à la fin du Cercle des Poètes Disparus, quand Ethan Hawke monte sur sa table. C’est bôôôooo …

            Bon, il faut bien dire, après 11 heures de volant (voire, 13 heures au Canada), que j’ai plus la tête à aller dormir qu’à n’importe quoi d’autre, en général.

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