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Tales of a Working Mother: Love

It's the month where romantic love is the star and people are basking in it, passionately seeking it or mourning that it seems to be everywhere but in their heart.

This year, politics is providing some competition for the omnipresence of Valentine's Day, but even the most exciting race in recent history can't compete with love. I'd guess there will be a lot more dinner reservations placed than votes this month.

February is also my anniversary month, so it has even more meaning for me than your garden variety romantic. But, after nearly two decades of married life, while I can still be swayed by sentiment (I'm partial to tulips, you can hold the roses), I know the attention on hearts, flowers and cupid's arrow are only window dressing on the foundation required to honor a commitment for life.

So, when I decided to focus the theme of my column on love, I threw my net a lot farther than the romantic love that defines February. At this stage in my life, what I love is much broader and more complex than a spark or a rush or a head-over-heels experience.

It's clich e to say there are many types of love but it seems so true when, like me, your life is filled with many different types of people who make it richer, better and more sane.

Love at work may make you think of the taboo and illicit but by my definition it's pretty crucial to happiness, since I spend a lot of time with the people at the office.

I love that I work with such smart, interesting, competent people. I love that they are passionate about excellence and that shows in every detail of their work. I love that I am inspired to do my best because I believe in them and what they are capable of. During the stations' coverage of the October wildfires, this commitment to do the right thing seemed to shimmer off of the building. People stayed all day and all night to inform the public or support those who were doing the researching and reporting. It was truly life changing to be a part of it.

I am a person who is blessed with many personal and professional friends. Yet, I can count on the fingers of one hand my most intimate friendships. & I love that when I put my hand out these women reached across and grabbed it and that they are willing to invest the time and care that a quality friendship requires. & I've been seduced by the pull of groups that offer dozens of women to bond and network with, but those connections can't compare with my friends who know my darkest nights and brightest days and are there for me always.

I love the people who care about my children not because they have to or they're supposed to but because they see what is unique about them and they appreciate it & ndash; sometimes better than I do. They are teachers and friends; they are therapists who support my son and students who work in my daughter's preschool class. They are coworkers who revel in the stories of my oldest child's spirit and remind me to support it, rather than squelch it. They are parents who compliment my children's manners and make me glad that what I don't always get at home is at least being practiced in public.

Finally, I love what I learn everyday from my children. The slant of their eyes and the curve of their smiles tell the world they are from the same gene pool. But daily their unique personalities force me to see them for the individuals that they are. As a new mother, it was a shock to realize that my oldest daughter wasn't going to be just like me. In fact, in 12 years I've come to learn our personalities couldn't be more different. Yet, I am awed by her energy, determination and creativity. Her self confidence, while sometimes jarring, is laying the path toward the future of leadership that she so desires.

I could spend a whole column on what my son has taught me. Having a child with special needs is an adventure. There are high highs, like the day he brought home his daily report and his teacher wrote "Great Day" on it. That meant there were no outbursts, no refusals to participate, no inappropriate interactions with his classmates. It meant that he behaved just like a "normal" kid. But for me, that day was like getting a raise, or being told I'm beautiful. I saved that report to remind me that some days he's recognized just because he is "special" not because he has "needs." Then, there are days that are so bad I feel like we're taking one step forward and three backwards. But throughout it all, he's taught me to believe that with the love and perseverance and training of his family and supporters he is capable of so much more than I could have imagined just a few years ago.

My youngest, at the tender age of 3, has taught me to be happy for life's unexpected surprises. Every morning she climbs into my bed and curls like a comma against my back. Her mop of dark, wavy hair and her fuzzy purple bear cover my face. It has been three years but I still can't get over this gift of my third child. She has taught me to open my heart to those things that initially seem insurmountable. She has proven to me that I am up for the challenge, and I love her for that.

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