There’s love that gives kisses, and there’s love that does dishes.

There’s the love you feel when you watch your baby sleep and he’s soft and limp, miraculous and sweet-smelling of milk.

Then there’s the love that makes it possible to walk that same baby through the house through the fourth straight hour of fussing and crying. That’s love with teeth.

Love is when you stay married to your partner in spite of all his annoying habits.

Love with teeth is when you never let those annoying habits grow large in your mind and heart.

Love is when you make the decision to breastfeed your new baby because you want to give him the best possible start.

Love with teeth is when you discover that breastfeeding your baby feels like you’ve got a staple gun having its way with your nipples and you keep nursing that baby anyway.

Love is when you tell a breastfeeding friend who is in pain that it will get easier, that she’s doing great, that it will all be OK.

Love with teeth is when you hold her hand at 4 am and tell her that it will get easier, that she’s doing great, that it will all be OK.

Lots of siblings adore each other when they are small.

Extraordinary siblings are still best friends when they’re teenagers.

Love is when you get a new stepmom and you accept her from the start.

Love with teeth is when your stepmom is utterly lousy at fulfilling the role and you keep forgiving her and letting her try again. And again. And again.

Love is when you work your ass off trying to hold a troubled marriage together because a divorce will change your kids’ lives forever.

Love with teeth is when you stay in that marriage for one last year after it dies because your daughter is a rabid mama’s girl and she needs that time living with both parents to bond with her dad.

Love with fangs is when, a dozen years later, your daughter wants to go live with her dad and even though it breaks your heart, you let her go because that is what she says she needs to be happy.

Love is when you’re willing to be a friend’s birth assistant because her partner’s culture forbids his participation.

Love with teeth is when you’re still willing to be her birth partner at the 44th, the 52nd, then the 65th hour of labor and she has turned mean.

Love is when you feel guilty about bullying that weird, shy girl when you were both in 6th grade.

Love with teeth is when you go find that girl and pour your heart into writing the best, most sincere apology letter possible.

There’s the love you feel when you see some pretty flowers and, inspired by sweet memories, buy some for your grandma.

And then there the love that makes it possible for you to give your grandma a manual disimpaction because you aren’t willing to see her suffer even though the task goes far beyond your personal grossness tolerance threshold.

Love is when, just a few weeks before her wedding, your granddaughter’s fiancée breaks up with her and the rest of the family is complaining about the trouble caused by non-refundable plane tickets and gifts that need to be returned, and you send flowers and a card.

Love with teeth is when, on the day of the wedding, you (only you) remember to call your granddaughter and make sure she knows that she is deeply loved.

There’s the love you feel for your children because of who they are and what they do.

And then there’s the love you feel for your children because they are.

No love that is real is ever easy.

Love with teeth never forgets that.

Sometimes, love with teeth holds on with all its might and refuses to let go no matter how tired and tattered it gets.

Sometimes, love with teeth screams and wails and resists, but it releases.

If it’s easy, it’s not love with teeth.

Love is when you have a friend and you enjoy her company.

Love with teeth is when you see each other through marriages and divorces, births, deaths, economic crises, cross-country moves, and a thousand other changes across 20 years and you still look forward to her calls and visits.

Love is when you find a partner you want to live with forever.

Love with teeth is when you find a partner you can’t imagine living without.

Love is when you work hard to hold your family together, to make sure your children have everything they need to grow up safe and strong and healthy.

Love with teeth is when you do all that in the heart of the dust bowl.

Loving yourself means eating well, getting a pedicure or a massage, making sure you get enough sleep.

Love with teeth means you never let anyone (including yourself), any time, ever, treat you like you’re anything less than a divine creature, apple of the creator’s own eye, son or daughter of God.

Because you are.

I am.

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25 thoughts on “There’s love that gives kisses, and there’s love that does dishes.”

  1. Thank you! I got my first scanner yesterday, so I've been having a grand old time with all these old photos.

  2. I'm trying this comment thing again… if it doesn't work, It's not meant to be.

    BUT, I have been growing increasingly frustrated with my husband lately and I've had that stupid "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" song stuck in my head. I logged on to twitter and was kind of half-way debating whether or not to post something about how I'm feeling and I saw your link to this blog and I was like woah. Like, wooaah. Do I HAVE to stay married to someone in spite of all their annoying habits? Humph.

    The part that I thought was the saddest was the daughter-going-to-live-with-dad thing. Absolutely heartbreaking.

  3. Tagging onto the same ole' sentimental mood that caused me to write this in the first place, can I just tell ya'll that the world's very kindest people read and comment on my blog? Egad, I feel so blessed!

    Sarah – the last one trumps all.

  4. Wow. What an absolutely beautiful post.

    As a mom who vividly remembers the agony of those first weeks of nursing, I absolutely love the nursing photo. I remember wondering if it would always hurt that badly, if that is what it meant to truly love–to hurt that badly and continue anyway.

    I nursed my sweet Katie for 21 months and hope to nurse my son for at least that long. It has been one of the highlights of my life.

    Weaning when they are ready and you are not is the part with teeth.

    Beautiful post–thank you for sharing.

  5. OH MY GOD!!!! How lucky are you to have all this love with teeth? And how amazingly lucky are all of the people in your life who you love so fiercely?

    I keep picturing the Mother cat, bringing food back to the kittens that she has killed with those razor teeth. The same teeth she then uses to gently usher her babies to safety in times of danger.

    "Love with Teeth" . . . I LOVE THAT!

    Also? Adore all of the photos, scanner woman.

  6. so so great! love the alternative embrace your inner awesomeness. thanks so much for sharing! (also, bonus points for using fabulous photos to illustrate each point 🙂 xoxo

  7. "Love with Teeth" would be a great way for you to jump on the vampire bandwagon sweeping the world.

    Or you could not jump on the bandwagon, and just be proud that you wrote such a heartfelt post.

    You win, either way.

  8. This is why I could never start a blog, I could never live up to posts like this.
    You are a wonderful writer.

  9. Pingback: The Cosmic Measuring Stick of Love | No Points For Style

  10. Pingback: Do you know you're a bitch? | No Points For Style

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