There is a moment that happens for a great many of us when a quiet little thought begins to take shape in our minds: we decide that we want to become a parent. It’s really just a whisper at first, and we treat it like a great secret, hiding it safely away and taking it out only occasionally to look at it from different angles. Some days we are terrified by the notion, reviewing our resumés and asking ourselves the question, “what makes you think you are qualified?” On other days, we turn that question into a statement that emphatically assures us that our qualifications are good, and we are most certainly the right person for the job. As time goes on, and we continue thinking about this tiny little secret of ours, we notice that something else has begun to grow along side it. We are falling in love with the idea of bringing a child into the world. It is a very different love, both foreign and familiar, reckless and safe, real, yet in many ways, still so incredibly unreal. But it is love, all the same. Of that we are certain. I personally believe that from the moment we each commit to the idea having a child, we begin to love that child, unconditionally, and without boundaries. In this sense, the idea races ahead of the reality and this love becomes very much like what the boy in Marjorie Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit feels for his beloved bunny. If we love the idea of our child enough, they will become real. This is one of the many reasons why struggles with fertility and miscarriages, even those that happen early on, are so very painful.
Once a child becomes a reality, some very interesting things begin to take place. The dads or partners of the world may rejoice: this baby is finally out! The moms, on the other hand, may feel lonely, or empty, or overwhelmed with emotion. Our constant companion, for whom we flawlessly provided both nourishment and protection for the past nine months, is now sitting in front of us and regarding us with a very skeptical eye. Some of us roll with this moment, and it becomes an extension of the love we’d already been feeling. The new baby smell, the incomparably soft skin, those tiny little outfits. Others of us don’t roll quite as well, and we meet our baby’s eye with equal skepticism. The resumé that reassured us now seems fake, and we question our adequacy on a daily basis. We’re looking for a first smile, some conversation, a little positive reinforcement, an explanation for all this crying. Eventually we get those things, of course, and to say that our love multiplies becomes a massive understatement. It grows geometrically, exponentially, explosively. What we begin to realize is that not only do we love this child unconditionally, just like the boy loved his velveteen rabbit, but we are loved back in that very same way. In the beginning, we are their world, and for as long as it lasts, the feeling is glorious.
Time passes, as it must, and these early perfect moments as parent and child yield to everyday reality, just as they do with any love story. One of the major differences found in our relationship with each of our children, however, is that its success depends upon partners eventually separating, rather than remaining together forever. With each step our children take toward independence, our hearts swell and then break in an endless cycle of holding on and letting go. There are moments when we confound one another, when we cannot see eye to eye, when we fear that all our love and our history will not be enough to bridge the gap that has opened between us. We do damage and repair it, as we learn the importance of discovering limits and establishing boundaries. We test one another, failing on some days and passing on others, until we develop the mutual respect that is the basis of unconditional love. It has never been difficult for me to see the story of The Velveteen Rabbit as symbolic of the love between a parent and child. I wonder though, if it is not the children that are the velveteen rabbits, but the love itself. It begins as brand new and perfectly plush, but eventually becomes tattered and worn. We lose an eye here, an ear falls off there. This pattern repeats itself through each phase of our relationship, where we push and then yield, and our love strains and then strengthens, until we are ready for that final release, and the way in which it returns us to the truest expression of love without conditions.
For today’s cocktail, I began with the idea of transformation, as symbolized by a truly unique cocktail ingredient called butterfly pea flower tea, which I made into a simple syrup. It begins as blue, until it is combined with citrus and then turns beautiful shades of purple or pink. Its flavor is mild, almost like candy Valentine hearts, fitting for this time of year. I chose vodka as the base spirit because I wanted a blank canvas to represent the way our relationship begins with our children. I added just a small bit of gin to symbolize the joyous lift we feel in those early days, and two dashes of aromatic bitters to speak to the experiences that challenge our relationship and ultimately bind us together. To love a child is to experience transformation. Cheers everyone! Happy Friday. Thank you so much for reading.
2 oz your favorite vodka
.25 oz your favorite gin
1.25 oz Butterfy Pea Flower tea syrup*
1 oz lemon juice
2 dashes aromatic bitters
Too pretty to garnish.
*Tea available on Amazon. Make the tea according to package directions. Strain, heat gently, and mix in an equal amount of sugar.