“Mom, I’m going to ask Anna to marry me.”
When my 30 year old son uttered these words to me, I so wanted to be happy for him, hug him tight and spin him around in my arms as I did when he was just a young boy. I put on my best happy face and said, “That’s terrific, honey!”
He and Anna have been together for seven years now. They have been through more in those seven years than many long married couples I know. Both have Chronic Lyme Disease and although better, still suffer painful and sometimes mysterious symptoms which make for long and excruciating work hours. They forge on.
They both suffer severe joint pain and fatigue which oft times leads to short tempers and harsh words. They’ve endeavored calling it quits on several occasions, only to realize a few weeks later, one or both were simply cracking under emotional and physical duress from their disease. They talk it out. They forge on.
They adopted a beautiful little Beagle together and named him Jerry after Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, the band whose music brought them together. Personally, I believe Jerry was sent to them by the Divine to comfort and heal them both with his benevolent spirit and ever-patient heart. When they happen to fall ill simultaneously, I take Jerry with much delight until they are able to properly care for him again. They miss his presence terribly. They forge on.
They love each other, that’s clear, but I worry. Statistics are no longer on the winning side of marriage and I have come to believe in my 60 years of living that in today’s society, marriage isn’t necessary. No longer are there negative stigmas attached to couples who choose to live with their partners hence allowing them to enjoy almost all the benefits of marriage. Unmarried couples live together, purchase homes and have children and should they decide to part, can do so without all the legal baggage and formalities.
But then I realize I am projecting my fears, failures and experiences onto their possibilities, their chance at happiness doing it their way.
I can only speak to being a parent of boys. I raised both my sons to be independent thinkers, to question and if need be, rebel against unwarranted authority. I taught them to seek their own truth in every situation albeit rumor, theory or philosophy. I told them to never assume because assumption is laziness pure and simple. Use your brain, do the research and find what you believe to be the truth and stand firmly by it.
And now, even though he has been on his own for years, my time to parent, to parent well, has slapped me in the face yet again. He is not a boy any longer and this is not an easy concept for me to embrace -even as he stands before me, all 6’ 3” and 210 lbs. of him.
I need to trust in myself, the values I taught him and hope the moral compass I imparted guides him through the world he sees for himself and Anna. I have to trust in him, that he has indeed found the truth in this matter of marriage as I always taught him to do. I have to trust that the years they have stood by one another has been ample ‘research’ enabling him to make a logical and heartfelt decision.
So yes, after standing back and observing his smiling face as he imparts the biggest news of his life to me, his mother, his steward and keeper of secrets, I will embrace him with a hug so tight he can feel my trust in his decision right down to his bones. It’s not for me, as his parent, to tell him what to do. It’s my job now to support and celebrate his happy decision with him.
I cannot predict their future nor is it my place to try. As parents, we want our children to be happy; that’s the end game isn’t it – is my child happy?
Looking again, his twinkling green eyes answer that question and my heart skips a beat. Perching atop my tip toes to reach his ear I whisper “I couldn’t be happier for the both of you, darlin’ boy”.