Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mother's Day

When you marry someone you pledge to stand beside one another through sickness and in health, for better or worse, richer or poorer. You vow to stay together until death do you part which can be a very long time. In that time, you will grow, mature, and change, sometimes in unexpected ways. Life will bend and notch you. Your shape may then change or dents or pocks may become apparent as a result. The changes can be dramatic. They can be so striking that you may become essentially someone very different than the person you were on your wedding day. Off the top of my head, I can think of examples of individuals that grew and took on new interests and pursuits that caused them to spend more and more time away from their husband. He could not share her new passion, could not compete with her new interests, and the things they enjoyed to do together became not all that interesting to her anymore. She changed, grew; he didn’t. Gradually, the strain was too much to bear and the tether that bound them together gave. And we can all think of instances when the challenges life presents can become too much for some to support; they then take solace in an escape: video games, the bottle, drugs, and the toll on their marriage is too damaging to justify keeping the union intact.

When you stand on the altar beside the person you love more than anything else in the world, your thoughts are very far from the future. You may imagine the future as an extrapolated projection of the present, basically the same moment you are in now, only with two people who are a little more grey and a little more wrinkled. But this is more often than not very far from what the future will truly old, just as on my wedding day, I could not have imagined at that moment my life know, working in DC, with three children, having lived in India and Brazil. I don’t think I’ve changed, but I’m sure in ways that are imperceptive to me I have. I am weathered, my edges slightly worn.

When you stand on the altar beside the person you love more than anything else in the world, regardless of how long your courtship, you cannot possibly know everything about the person you are about to commit to spending the rest of your days with. The next several years (decades, even) will be of exploration and revelation. You will continue to learn as that person grows, evolves, changes, and reveals new and exciting facets of themselves to you.

I say all this as preamble to how still, daily, I am amazed and impressed by Elise. She is growing, changing. We both are. Her, certainly, for the better. Of course, on our wedding day, I had no idea what kind of mother she would be. Of course, I knew her core traits, among them her ferocious sense of justice, of right and wrong, her creativity, her drive for perfection in all she did, and could estimate what kind of mother she might be. But kids are crazy, constantly providing equal amounts of wonder and frustration.

I knew Elise was a good cook, but somehow I did not know just how good. It still confounds me how this escaped me, but in the last few weeks, Elise has made (from scratch) steak rogan josh, Madras shrimp masala, mole (¡Mole! People!!), and grilled paella.

Elise really doesn’t like Mother’s Day. I won’t go as far as to say she hates it. I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but I’m pretty sure if you asked her what she thought of Mother’s Day, you’d get an answer pretty close to that. As a day to respect all that your mother does for you, it’s become perverted in much the same way Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus. Elise will tell you the expectations are too great. There’s too much pressure to do something amazingly wonderful for your mother on Mother’s Day so that anything less than a crab cake benedict and mimosas on a vineyard with rolling green hills in the background and children happily giggling at your feet is a failure and ripe for disappointment.

That pretty much sums up why we had lunch at Subway on Mother’s Day.

And I don’t think Elise would have had it any other way.

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