I told my students this week that my parents are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary this weekend. Most of them were blown away. A few commented on how awesome that is and how it’s so rare these days.
It is rare.
And it’s extremely awesome.
They were married in 1973 just three months before my mom turned 20, and just days before my dad turned 23. So young! Such babies!
When I was 20, I remember thinking, “my mom was married by this age and I am just in my sophomore year of college with no serious boyfriend.”
I mean, when I was 20? I was ridiculous. There was no way I could do what my mom did.
She said, “I do” to my dad at an age where I was getting large M’s marked on my hands at concerts and bars and not getting up for a class that was earlier than 10:50am.
She took on budgeting and keeping house at an age when I was still bringing my laundry home for her to do for me.
She was meal-planning and comparing meat prices at an age when I was deciding between buying Ramen noodles or that pint of Popov Vodka.
You get the point. I can’t even begin to imagine giving up college, getting hitched, and becoming a housewife at age 20. It is just not for me at all.
But my mom did it.
I don’t know much about what their first few years married was like. I imagine it wasn’t that much different than mine and Cort’s first few years. So excited to buy that first house and move in together. Overcome with giddy silliness each time they realize that this is it. The real deal. No one has to go home at the end of the evening. Concerned about the tightness of money and how to pay the bills and save. Dreamy about what the future would be like.
I wonder at times…did they sit and dream like Cort and I do?
In those five years before they had kids, did my parents wonder about their future kids? Think of names? Talk about all the places they would love to travel to? Did they sit outside with a glass of wine and talk about their dream house or dream jobs?
And once I arrived, did they stare at me in wonder like we did with Eddie? Did they shake their head in amazement that they were actually someone’s parents? Did they worry about my future and if they were messing me up?
Once their family was complete, how did they know? Did they settle in to raising their kids up? What did they talk about after we kids were tucked away to bed each night? Did they share a laugh over something one of us did that we took very seriously? Did they discuss how they would handle the “sex talk” and puberty and boyfriends/girlfriends and getting a driver’s license and college choices and and and…
Did they ever foresee the not-so-awesome choices that we would make? Did they cry over us?
I know they prayed over and about us.
What I do know is that in the 35 years that I have been part of that marriage, I have never seen them scream-fight at each other.
I have never heard either say anything hurtful or ugly about the other.
I have never heard them disagree about money.
I have never seen them physically hurt each other.
I have never witnessed them cut the other just to do it and watch the other person hurt.
I have many times heard my dad tell my mom what an excellent cook she is.
I have had my mom tell me to ask my dad because he knows a lot about that specific topic and could be a great help.
I have many time seen my dad hug and kiss my mom…especially after dinner…much to our kid-disgust (ewww!!!!)
I have seen them stand by each other in the face of a screaming teenager.
I have had my mom comfort me when my dad just didn’t understand my teenage girl crazy. But she never put him down.
I have had my dad comfort me when my mom and I clashed due to my teenage girl crazy. But he never said she was wrong.
They play up each other’s strengths and they cover each other’s weaknesses.
My mom encourages my dad to be the leader that he can be.
My dad encourages my mom to be the nurturer that she can be.
My mom reels my dad in.
My dad throws out my mom’s line a bit.
My mom is what I think of when I read about the Virgin Mary in the Bible. I believe she loved being a mother. She cherished all the things about her son in her heart and she honored her husband. My mom is the same way.
My dad is what I think of when I read about the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son. Instead of dwelling on our mistakes, he rejoices in our victories. He is giving and loving with his family.
My parents are not perfect.
They do argue. They do disagree. They make mistakes.
But they get through it.
For 40 years.
And for the rest of their lives.
Happy anniversary, mom and dad. You are truly the best example of marriage that I have been blessed to witness. Your love, devotion, and faithfulness have influenced me more than you know. Thank you.