“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”

Just so you know, I’m not really one for pairing quotes, inspirational or otherwise, with my photographs. Unless I’ve taken an image with a specific quote in mind, which doesn’t happen very often. But as I was getting ready to share this image this particular quote was swimming round and round in my mind, in a pool of thoughts and words.

I know it’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever learnt, to love and be loved in return, particularly since my kids came along. Not that the love for our children, our very hearts, needs to be learned. It’s just there. Instinctual and fierce. But the being loved in return part kind of took me by surprise. Even still there’s a part of me that feels it needs to be earned. I crawl in to bed too many nights feeling like I’ve fallen short, a hundred times over. I’m surprised my kids like me some days, let alone love me. But they do. A thousand times over. I don’t even have to question it. It’s in their breath as they whisper good morning, and on their fingertips as they pinch my nose goodnight. Intrinsical and, yes, fierce. You’ll never know the true meaning of the word fierce until you’ve been tackled to the floor in a welcome home hug. Or had the air squeezed out of your chest as they hold on to you for one last kiss before you leave.

And as I spent time with Carolyn, Gavin, and their new baby boy yesterday I recalled what those first few weeks felt like for me – the before and the after. The realising that you were full of a kind of love that just is. And you would fight to the ends of the earth, with everything you had and would ever be, to protect it. And you thought that made you whole, complete, fulfilled. But it’s a shallow emptiness compared to the wonder of that love being handed back to you by gentle, forgiving, inspiring, tiny little hands. Tiny little hands that don’t hesitate, and don’t withhold. They seek, and they find, and they embrace. And they never let go. Until you reluctantly pry them away, because you really need to go to the bathroom. In peace.

Here’s to the greatest thing you’ll ever learn guys, and to a lifetime of lessons. And to having the air squeezed out of your chest on a daily basis. It’s the best feeling ever. Congratulations. xx

Newborn Photography

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