We’ve all heard love is a labor and usually assume it’s about love. But what love? Reflecting on “what love” left me pondering on the many levels of labored love.
My initial inklings brought me to the love you have of another being. Your significant other, soul mate, heart-pounding shake-inducing crush, that one being that you know is your all-spark and you would do anything for. Like Celeste Armitage in A Dead Man's Debt by Grace Elliott, or Chloe in Love Letters by Geraldine Solon. You would move mountains for this person if you could, although sometimes it takes a mountain moving for your heart and head to realize it simultaneously. And then I realized, that almost without notice I had moved from another being, to children. After all, wouldn’t we move mountains for our children?
Anyone who has been around kids for longer than a few minutes knows that children are definitely a labored love. Sure, we love them, but when is the last time you took a step back and looked at the labor you put into that love? Obviously there’s the normal labor in giving birth, but not everybody has given birth to the child they would move mountains for, like the twins in Nancy Wood's book Due Date. Think of the dad’s, teachers, adopted parents, and even the concerned citizens like Molly in Chasing Amanda, by Melissa Foster that labor over “our” children.
Then there are the people who don’t have the flesh and blood kids, but pour their love into activities or objects they love. A clean home (I know we’ve all labored over this at least once!), a sport we play (I’m a sucker for softball), traveling, reading, writing, that one part of who we are that we can’t, or won’t give up. We see it in Promise on Pointe by Beth Mercer when Elsie has to choose between her lifelong dream of dancing and something else. And who else could write a traveling book other than someone who loves to travel, like Jack Adler and his book Smooth Traveling for Seniors.
As writers we all have something that gave us the extra push to write. Often it is our love for books that inspire us to write our own. We see this in Rebecca Frencl’s inspiration section on her blog Not All Who Wander Are Lost, and can relate when reading her book Ribbons of Moonlight.
So sure, “Love is a labor” can be about loving another person, but I feel ultimately it is more about what you love, and the constant labor you go through to satisfy that desire.