“I Want a Love Like Mom and Dad Have”

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Good, they’re both home.

He parked the pickup behind his parents sedans already in the driveway. I’ll remember the code when I get to the door. With only a two-day break before second semester started, it seemed right to surprise them. Climbing out of the truck, moist grass welcomed his feet. One easy hop took him up the three steps to the door.

Yes! 9158. Music, ever so faint, leaked from inside, hurrying him in. In the quiet front hall, a familiar warmness flowed over him. So good to be home. He hung his coat on the stair rail and headed in the direction his nose usually pointed him. Mom’s famous soup! The almost intoxicating aroma intensified the closer he got to the kitchen. And the music swelled too. They’re home alright.

You’re just too good to be true….Can’t take my eyes off of you.

You feel like heaven to touch, I want to hold you so much,

You’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off of you.”

The moment seemed sacred, them not knowing he stood watching. His dad swayed his mom to the song as if nothing else existed. She smiled up at him, totally engrossed in his embrace, until he twirled her around and she caught sight of her youngest son in the doorway.

“Uh, hi, Dad, Mom… sorry to barge in, but it is only five, and I didn’t think I’d be… but, dang it, you told me last year to start knocking… I’m sorry… I forgot.”

“Hey, hey, Bud, no problem!” John hugged his boy and then dropped into the closest chair, grinning. “We’re decent, aren’t we? Good to see you, Son! Come on in, sit down…what brings you all the way from Virginia?”

As the three chatted about “the latest” in the tiny den by the kitchen, Jay soaked in his surroundings. This was the life he left behind almost four years ago. Why would he just now see it? They’d always shown love for each other. So why the lump in his throat just now? Could it be the non-breakup, break up he’d just been texted last week? Could it be the series of divorces he’d heard about lately? Or maybe he’d talked to enough girls now- dated enough- to find only a few who said their parents truly liked each other.

“Mom, Dad, I hope I have a marriage like yours. You guys make it look easy to be happy…”

Can there be a higher compliment than this? One of my sixty-something friends shared this story while we chatted over coffee. Her son had toasted a similar version at their 40th wedding anniversary party. Then she said this:

“Our kids are jealous of us. They see us kiss in the kitchen, dance in every room, and laugh wherever we are. They wonder out loud when will it be their turn!”

Growing older isn’t on anyone’s bucket list. But it happens to most of us. And it presents a double challenge. Is my purpose in life bigger than my age, and am I in love with my mate?

Do you have that marriage? Did your parents have that marriage? Who do you know with that marriage? I can’t wait to hear about it!

Talking ‘Bout “My Girl”

I’ve got sunshine on a cloudy day.

When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May…

My girl, (my girl), talkin’ ‘bout my girl…”  -The Temptations

Such a simple thing. Hubby comes into the kitchen, brushes past me, and without eye contact or emotion says,  “You are one hard-working girl.” Not a hard-working lady. Or hard-working woman. Or even hard-working chick.

Before our marriage, during his career as a professional musician, my husband played that song hundreds of times- often several times in a night. The crowds loved “My Girl” then and the world loves it still. But, why did it pop into my head today as if for the first time? I realized that in thirty-nine years, (That’s how long we’ve been married.) he’s never referred to me gender-wise with any other term. Of course, I’m also those genderless names of Honey, Sweetheart, and Love. But mostly, I am “his girl.”

He would even tell the kids, “Don’t you cross my girl. She’s your mother and my wife.”

As I thought about his consistent use of the tag, I wondered if it’s made a difference over the years. What if he’d used just the other terms of endearment? Or called me by my name or “The Mrs.” These questions brought up a distant memory from VBS teaching days (my mid-forties) when a misbehaving six year-old referred to me as “you old lady.” I immediately burst out laughing, it sounded so crazy. Seems I have been affected by my husband’s pet word, for a long time. But how?

Self-Esteem

Since reality says I’m way past girlhood, being called Girl has affected my self-esteem. I don’t mean self-worth. I find my worth in God’s view of me. But when women pass the girl stage of life, they may tend to feel “past their prime.” The term “Girl” evokes a sense of freshness, radiance, and warmth. When he calls me that, I feel all those things, even if only for a moment.

Attraction

“My Girl” speaks of security and belonging. His “Come here, Girl,” sounds more alluring than “Come here, Woman,” or Lady or Chick. Now I admit there are times when the latter references might “stir things up” a bit quicker. But normally, when he draws me into his arms with this playful name, I want to move toward him. I think it’s because I sense he wants me for me. Not for what I have to give him.

Sense of Aging

As hard as it is to admit, I feel more like a girl because that’s exactly how he sees me. Always has. Here I am in my sixties, but besides having (a bit) less agility, the mirror is the sole conspirator against my sense of “girlness.” Denial? Self-trickery? Maybe.

However, doesn’t love see everything in its best light?

If your husband hasn’t used this reference to you lately, and you haven’t thought of yourself this way, here’s my advice to you:

         Keep the attitude of being your husband’s girlfriend. You are your husband’s lover, wife, and business associate, all in one package. Concentrate more on the girlfriend part, and tell him you love being his girl. Call yourself a girl when referring to yourself. “I am one tired girl!” “This girl really likes you, Mr. Hunk!” You get the idea. Don’t call yourself Old Girl, though. That’s an automatic penalty.

         Finally, think of your grown daughters as your forever girls. My oldest daughter just turned thirty-seven, and she is still my girl. I will always be her mother, and she’s the mother of her own brood. We belong to a sisterhood of girls- for life!

Assumptions Matter

Call the Midwife

Assumptions or beliefs form the foundation of what we think, and therefore what we do. Assumptions based on something firm, real, and lasting bring ultimate peace. Assume God is real, that He means exactly what He says, and amazing things happen.

Enter stage right, epic assumptions on a current TV show! Yes, PBS’s “Call the Midwife” sort of sneaks up on you and won’t let you go. One might wonder, how did a “savvy” viewing public get so caught off-guard? Maybe it’s the more or less off-putting name. Many still refuse to give it a chance. Even I skepticised with assumptions. A reality show about birthing babies, on PBS? 

But my assumptions were dead wrong. The program is neither a reality show nor about birthing babies. It’s a story about hope – written in the poignant journal of a young nurse, Jenny Lee. In her ink, transformed now on screen, we stare unwittingly close up, face to grimy face, in the poorest section of post-war London in the 1950s.

The central figures, a handful of Anglican nuns find daily strength in worship, prayers and contemplative songs. They live in the neighborhood in a combination convent and clinic. With one resident doctor, they dedicate their lives completely to the people they serve, souls they find precious simply because they live.

The nuns also house a small group of young nurse midwives in every stage (or non-stage) of spiritual interest. The nuns model for the younger women a love of humanity that defies understanding. How? Sacrifice, no judgement. The result? Heavy, exhausting days made lighter and shorter by that very love. These women assume their work not only important, but of cosmic proportion.

Now to be clear, in most episodes, babies do emerge from the wombs of their indigent mothers at the skillful urging of these “helpers.” The arrival of the midwife always brings hope, just as the arrival of the baby does. It’s as if each one rasps out in his first cry, “You can make it through another day. It will be tough, but I am here.” The assumption? Each new life is priceless.

Season Three continued the transient human drama with a love story of Jenny Lee. One episode impacted me on so many levels that I felt compelled to write about the irony of the story’s assumptions. Especially the irony of today’s society, how our assumptions changed with affluence and an entitlement mindset.

The episode begins with Jenny enjoying the attentions of a young man, Alec, who cherishes and respects her, including her dedication to midwifery. When he invites her to a weekend event out of town, she accepts, assuming he would reserve two rooms in their lodging.

To be sure, though, she pops in unannounced at his place of business. Not finding him there, she strikes up a conversation with his work associate who, in the twinkling of an eye, alters her assumption. He jokes about Alec “looking so forward” to their weekend away. Plants a seed of doubt about his intentions. When Alec walks into the room, sparks fly. She walks out.

Alec: You are making assumptions! (about my assumptions.)

Jenny: No, you are. (making assumptions about what I think is good and acceptable.)

Even though Jenny’s spiritual “jury” remained out, certain assumptions, rock solid under her feet, spoke to her of love. Such things as mutual respect, commitment, cherishing the “other” over self. From where did these assumptions come? In time maybe she would give credit where credit is due.

As for the outcome of the episode, you’ll just have to see it. But do yourself a favor and start at the beginning of Season One. Bask in the tender beauty these women build out of the rubble of poverty and heartbreak.

What do you think?

What assumptions (beliefs based on faith) have generally changed in our society over the past decades?

What about those of us who claim Christ’s name? Have we inwardly, secretly assumed He doesn’t notice us doing things our own way?

As for assumptions about sex, do you agree it used to be assumed more special? Back then, “normal” meant that Sex and Love form a “team” in marriage, though difficult and costly at times. It seems we’ve tossed the formidable “team” aside.

And who cares? For the shallow pleasure we condone today makes no assumptions at all.