I am not sure how one measures love. I think initially, we confuse love with lust. Many measure it in monetary terms such as jewellery and mini breaks. Possibly the most important category we all turn to are official signs of commitment. In my day, these were things like: he brought me to spend the holidays with his family, or more frequently: he didn’t ignore me at the bar until last orders. I guess these days nervous daters hover over their loved one’s status waiting for the update to ‘in a relationship’ and hopefully not to ‘it’s complicated.’

As relationships extend over a period of years, things can get murky. Forgetting to pick up socks can feel like a personal affront. Not rinsing the sink after shaving–again–can translate to ‘you must not care for me very much.’ Eventually, even the most insignificant actions or words can turn into questioning someone’s love for you.

As these things add up, it becomes all to easy to rag on our husbands as a steam valve. Let’s face it: they make a very easy target. If you find yourself venting to a group of your mum-mates with sympathetic ears, then things can escalate all too easily and everything becomes a capital offence.

But beware my friends! This is dangerous territory. We can all too easily lose our footing and end up in a ditch, pissed, miserable unable to see we only–mostly—have ourselves to blame. The act of smiling supposedly leads to feelings of happiness, so it should follow the act of ragging, over time, leads to feeling like complete and utter shit.

As someone who is genetically predisposed to my glass being ‘half empty’ (metaphorically, since in the literal instances my glass is totally full, preferably with a good Argentine red), I tell my kids to focus on the positive. Forgive. Move on. But I seriously struggle with these things myself, and I know I am not alone.

Rather than focus on shortcomings and bitching about it, we need to step back and take a closer look at the overall picture. How did I learn this? 

My family’s had a rough ride of late. Among other things, we’ve been dealing with two potential rabies exposures, a crushed foot, and a case of pneumonia. Part of what has kept us going was knowing that we were going to have a beach holiday break this month–our first holiday in a long while. 

With both our kids very unwell, we were still toying with whether we would have to cancel even up to the night before flying. My husband worked from home several days to help with the numerous hospital runs since we have no car and it’s the hot–aka fry an egg on the sidewalk—season. He also gave up his half of the bed to his daughter in exchange for an Ikea bunk bed, canopy and all.

His last day at the office was even busier, but he didn’t flinch when I asked him to try and track down lime leaves for the caterpillars the girls and I had picked up for a science project. These things are voracious eaters and they were sitting there in their little jars, on a mountain of poop, waiting to be fed. Not getting lime leaves was akin to caterpillar-cide.

After a day of back to back meetings and mad dashes to various markets, all unsuccessful,  he hedged his bets and battled legendary rush hour Bangkok traffic twice through the central districts to reach the only purveyor of Keffir Lime leaves in town. He returned home with two giant bags of lush green lime leaves, sweating, exhausted. On top of this, he found the energy to send me to bed while he prepared dinner, after which he went back to his laptop to keep working late into the night, making up for all the time he spent with the sick kids and lime leaf shopping.

As I upgraded my two foster pillar-babies to large poop-free jars stuffed with pungent lime leaves, it dawned on me that I was focusing on the wrong details. These two tiny caterpillars were more than just a  life-cycle lesson for my kids; they were a lesson in love for me. 

We’re back from our trip and, tragically, one of our caterpillars has turned into a putrefying zombie bug. The other thank goodness is now in her lovely apple green cocoon.

The two jars represent the two paths I can take: Stay on the one I’ve been on and watch my relationship go the way of my little zombie friend or pick myself up off the floor, remove the box of wine tap from my mouth, and take a leaf from our little survivor’s book,  transforming myself into someone who knows how to appreciate the love that was right before my eyes.


Cordelia is a researcher who has recently settled in Merida, Mexico after a decade spent chronicling her parenting adventures around South East Asia. When she isn’t homeschooling her children, she is usually found losing the battle against Herculean weeds while wielding a can of mosquito spray as Brienne of Tarth does her sword. Cordelia's eclectic and oftentimes regrettable past includes eco-innovation, sailing instruction and restaurant cashier. She is currently working on the upcoming launch of her new site Homeschooling for the Zombie Apocalypse.


  1. Thank you both! And just a fun aside: between submitting my post and it being ready to run – our little butterfly emerged and that’s her drying her wings on her terrace before she finally flew away! (Also a bit embarrassing that I took more pics and videos of that little creature than of both my kids combined.)

  2. I’d say I needed to read this right now, but I think I’m looking at it the wrong way. Everyone needs to read this piece, no matter the hour. Absolutely beautiful, Cordelia.

  3. My little daughter has been sick for almost a week now with fever, and it is hard to find the balance between Being parents and Also Being a couple.. This article made me feel Good and remind me to look at the greater picture, thank you 🙂

  4. I read this a few weeks ago and again just now. Even better the second time around. A really beautiful piece Cordelia.

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