In 1984, after many years working with other people’s children, Jo and I decided to change our lives so we could start our own family. In 1985 when our first son was born, this new reality forced us to change the way we defined ourselves. We had been operating as if we were the leading edge of the wave that defined our futures. In a very short time, we evolved into parents who focused our thinking and our lives on our children; on their growth and their development. We changed our understanding of our place in the order of things. Before parenthood we moved forward in our lives giving little thought to failure or misdirection. We made decisions after determining how they would affect us. Like should we go back to Italy? Or should we spend more time on the road marketing? Now things were different. We could no longer act as the sole recipients of the consequences of our actions. Children forced us to extend our vision of the future long past the time we would no longer be players in the game. The poet Kahlil Gibran reminds us that our children are shot from the bow of the present into their future. This new responsibility for our children was the first of many things that required us to rethink our reasons for being.

As we taught our sons the names for objects and people, we realized that the English language was limited in words to adequately describe human emotions like love. Some cultures, have names for every type and condition of snow  It is so fundamental to their survival that they require a rich vocabulary to describe it. You would think that the concept of love would necessitate the same in the English language. Instead, we say we love hamburgers, our mate, and a fishing pole.

The English language severely limits what we can communicate about the emotion called love. We use the same word love to refer to an emotion so strong and powerful that it dominates us and for simple inanimate objects. This four-letter word requires the listener to interpret the context and differentiate the meaning.

By our actions as parents, we must teach our children how to love each other and how to receive love. We must also teach them that it’s okay to love ice cream. Personally, almost 40 years after the birth of our sons, great feelings and energy bursts from my heart when I tell them that I love them. I assume they know I’m not talking about my love for lilies blooming in the pond or yellow curry.