The complicated stuff

Categories: Found Love


“At least now you’ve found the love of your life,” my daughter says.

I chew my lip. This is the complicated stuff.

“I don’t know about that phrase anymore,” I say. “I think maybe we get a couple of really special loves in a lifetime.”

“Well,” she says, “at least now you’ve found your soulmate.”

I am stumped. She senses my hesitation. She watches my face.

“I don’t know about that word either,” I say.

“Why not?” she wants to know.

“For one thing,” I say slowly, “I used those terms to describe your dad, once.”

“That didn’t work out,” she says, “so he just wasn’t.”

Her perfunctory dismissal of what came before—a relationship that created her and her sister, a relationship that already she has begun to forget—cuts unexpectedly, deeply. She means no harm; in fact, she wants to do good, by assuring me that the now is far better than the then, for everyone concerned.

“I don’t know,” I tell her. “Maybe words like soulmate and love of your life just don’t tell the whole story, and when you’re young, you think they do.” I am scrabbling for words. We can both see I’m not going to be able to find them, not tonight.

“When I grow up, I’m going to marry the perfect person, so I never get divorced,” she proclaims. This is her Final Answer.

“I want that for you. I have some advice, though.”


“Maybe don’t look for the perfect person. Because nobody can be that. Maybe instead of looking for the perfect person, look for the perfectly imperfect person. Perfect for you, because their imperfections go well with yours.”

She nods. This makes a little sense, some, a bit.

I realize I have no idea how to teach her what I don’t understand myself.

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7 comments so far...

  • I’ve been struggling with this lately. I am with a man who I love so much and he’s wonderful……….but that youthful sense of abandon that comes with new love just isnt’ there. Now it’s tempered with caution and maybe a little pessimism. And I don’t even feel like it’s wrong……just experienced. Am I bitter? I don’t think so. Maybe.

    C Lo  |  June 8th, 2011 at 12:34 am

  • I think you did a good job with it — there is no such thing as the perfect person, the perfect relationship, the perfect anything, and it’s probably good for kids to know that. Maybe it makes me unromantic or whatever, but I think the concept of “soulmates” is really just reaching for a concept to express that sense of connection we have with certain people…

    gwen  |  June 8th, 2011 at 8:47 am

  • best. advice. ever. You may not think you know, but your words and your actions are giving her the tools to find what she needs - it’s the best gift you can give her. :)

    turtlemama  |  June 8th, 2011 at 9:10 am

  • Yes, this is the hardest part of parenting– trying to pass on to them what you yourself haven’t grasped. I don’t know how to teach my children a whole host of things i know they’re going to need. We just have to do the best we can.

    Sheryl  |  June 8th, 2011 at 10:10 am

  • Good stuff here, Jen. I struggle with these ideas after my divorce too. I’m reading “The Pale King” by David Foster Wallace and a character was talking about how our insecurities make us want to find someone else who can “save us” from all our sadness and self-doubt. When, in reality, what we really need to realize is that there is no perfect person who can save us except ourselves.

    That really hit me over the head because I’m working hard on that this summer: learning to be alone, learning to be myself, and learning to be OK with who I am without worrying about what others think. I think if I can straighten those things out, I won’t need everybody else to be so perfect.

    Deanna  |  June 8th, 2011 at 1:34 pm

  • Oh, to think like her again! But she has a wise mom to help guide her. Hoping for perfection is one of the great causes of unhappiness. So I love the line about looking for imperfections that go well with your own. Nice work, Jenn!

    All Adither  |  June 8th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

  • I’m just dropping in to let you know that this weblog is being featured on Five Star Friday:

    schmutzie  |  June 17th, 2011 at 1:42 am