Stormy Weather, With a Definite Outlook for Happiness
by Loretta Slota Marshall
© Loretta and William E. Marshall , Heinrich Bauer North America, Inc.,1983
Yesterday's storm certainly qualified as one of those "varying experiences of our lives" through which we promised to "love, honor, and tenderly care for each other." As a dozen funnel clouds roared and smashed their way across our city, one touching down several blocks from our house, the four of us took shelter in our basement and waited out the storm with cartoons interrupted by weather bulletins, baby biscuits and cheese, some leftover jug wine, a fifty-gallon puddle washed in through a leak we didn't know we had, and, a paradoxical sense of well-being in the midst of the fear knowing that whatever--we were in it together.
We don't have tornadoes here--or at least not until yesterday. And at the height of the storm we explained to our older son, that this was a new experience for us too. With wide amazed eyes, he asked, "Not even in the long, long time ago, before I was me?"
Although Marc is not yet three, I found it difficult to remember the time when he was not he. And almost impossible to recall a time when his father and I weren't we.
As the storm subsided and we waited out the watch, I remembered a gentler storm several weeks after Marc was born:
It was our anniversary. We have always been a romantic couple, celebrating our special days with a great deal of fanfare and style. And it seemed very important that no shortcuts be taken with this day.
The adjustment to parenthood had been more challenging than usual for us. At thirty-five, I had grown accustomed to the freedom and lifestyle of an unencumbered adult. At fifty-three, Bill was accepting the responsibility of starting another family while his friends were playing with grandchildren and planning leisurely retirements. He endured the subtle indignity of being the senior member of the Lamaze class and shared every concern of pregnancy, childbirth, and first anxious weeks with a tenderness and compassion beyond belief.
But this night was the anniversary of a time when we were just two deeply in love people with strong individual characters, agreeing to share our lives.
We had reservations at an elegant French restaurant. Bill had come home with an enormous bouquet of roses and chilled a bottle of champagne for our before dinner toasts. It was just like old times...except, of course, for arrangements for the baby. Dressing with special care, I fixed my hair in my best pre-baby style--as if to say I was the same woman he married. He was especially attentive as we dressed--as if to say nothing had changed between us.
The baby alternately dozed and cooed in his cozy woven-rush basket set like an enormous centerpiece on the coffeetable--the fruit of our love.
We lingered. We dawdled. We called and made the reservation for later. The snow drifted down.
"Maybe the roads are slick."
"Maybe it will get worse."
We sipped our champagne. We stalled.
"We don't have to go if you don't want to," he said.
"What do you really want to do?"
"I don't want to leave him."
"Neither do I."
We had boil-n-bag shrimp over instant rice--but it was the most memorable anniversary dinner we have shared.
His coffee grew cold while he walked the baby--our baby. And with a smile that warmed the room, he told me, "On the way home I wondered how I felt about my woman being a mother. And then I realized you are even more to me now because you are not only my woman and my wife, you are the mother of my son."
I had felt from almost the first moment we met that this wonderful man was the right man for me. In this snow-stilled love-filled moment, I knew he was the right man for the now--and future--me.
I had expected things to change, but somehow not us. But we weren't the same two people. Our marriage had made us more. Our baby had made us more. And we could go on changing and growing and becoming--and we could still be we. Come hail, high water...tornadoes, or mysterious puddles, whoever we are, wherever we are, we are in it together.
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Page last updated 5/20/99.