30 April 2007

Love, True Love

What makes a marriage work has been on my mind recently. What with a brother-in-law and a brother getting married a month apart and considering what's been going on in our extended families, it's shocking that it hasn't consumed my every thought.

I dated the SM briefly before his mission, but had been friends with him for most of our freshman year (amazing the allure of free food on the hungry young male - and I used that power most ruthlessly). After a whirlwind affair of IMing and emailing, he entered the MTC. I promptly "Dear John"ed him the first letter I sent to him as a missionary.


Because I decided that I didn't love him "like that." Ergo, the relationship should be terminated. I mean, every young girl knows you're supposed to be in love with anyone you're dating and considering to marry.

Of course, I still wanted him to be my best friend. And since he was desperate for mail (and he's such a stellar guy and he knew how stupid I was being) he didn't flush my address down the drain even though he was advised to do so by everyone in his missionary cohort.

Fast forward almost 3 years. I'm on my mission, he's been home for a little over 6 months. I get a letter from him, and I'm reading it on my bed. In a moment of shocking realization, I get dizzy with revelation. Here is a boy I don't have any romantic inclinations toward, but I'm writing him pages more than I write even my most loyal friends. He is the person I share my inmost thoughts with. And in that moment, I understood what a sham the necessity of being in love for a relationship to work - no, more than work - thrive is.

I think it is one of the biggest problems facing marriage today - people decide to terminate their marriages daily (and please understand, I'm not saying ALL marriages end for this reason) because they're not in love with their spouse anymore.

Being in love is a very wonderful feeling, but it is also (forgive me) a fleeting and shallow one. Being in love is also a selfish feeling - it is all about how you feel when you're around them. Or to use another limp phrase: how they make you feel. Considering how self-centered our society encourages us to be, I'm not too surprised that the importance of being in love has risen in prominence.

Love, True Love is the antithesis to being in love. It is a selfless feeling because the people you love are more important to you than you. True love is maintenance intensive and often exhausting.

A couple weeks ago some news place (CNN? MSNBC?) had a piece on arranged marriages in India - with the underlying astonishment that something as backward as arranged marriages would happen in our day and age. Especially since it was between two intelligent, consenting people!!! (They both had master's degrees). The man was excited about marrying a girl his parents had found for him. The woman was no less excited about marrying a man her parents had chosen for her instead of someone she had found herself. Both were given final say in whether they wanted to marry that particular person or not - so some choice was still involved.

Part of me is equally shocked that people are OK with their parents choosing their spouses. But most of me wonders what the dynamic of the couple would be where you know that you didn't choose each other. I wonder if somehow their marriage is more viable because it begins on a rational decision to unite instead of a hormonal rush. I wonder if they will be happier in the long run than many people who choose their own spouses because they aren't in love - they know they have to cultivate love for it to become Love, True Love.

I wonder.

24 April 2007

The forgotten begotten

The Dude said, "You forgot me, mommy!" without any prompting yesterday. I miss hearing "You begot me, Mommy!" already.

At least he still says "basagna" and "what nelse?" to keep me entertained.

Today's misspoken word: "Mr. Crap" instead of "Mr. Carp" while reading A Fish Out of Water.

I laughed.

Was that wicked of me?

22 April 2007

Reading, Writing, and 'Rithmetic

Cautionary note: You might want to skip this post if you are not related to us by blood or marriage. Contains gratuitous parental bragging that might make you not like me.

The Dude surprised me on our recent road trip. To keep him occupied because he had read and re-read all the books in the car (OK - all HIS books, he hasn't gotten interested in books without pictures yet), I started drawing pictures for him to color (not having had the foresight to bring a coloring book). I handed back a very well done Apatosaurus to be luridly colored. A few minutes later, the Dude called out, "Here, Mommy!"

I reached back, fully expecting to give him some (enthusiastic, but not necessarily entirely truthful) compliment upon seeing the page.

For a second, I wondered why he hadn't really colored in the dinosaur. Then it dawned on me: he had written "DiNO" across the bottom. Being a perfectionist already (I am deeply sorry he inherited this tendency), he had scribbled some of it out. We did the game a bit longer, but he got too frustrated, so we stopped.

I decided not to push him, because I really do worry about making him feel that he can't do things unless they are done perfectly.

But this past week, I turned from the computer to find him writing his name phonetically (if not accurately) into my notebook. He then charmingly wrote out "MOME" and "DADE."

I guess we only have to tackle 'rithmetic and then we're done with his schooling.

17 April 2007

Home again, home again

I have just returned from spending almost two weeks in the company of my in-laws. I can honestly say I enjoyed myself.

Firstly, they complimented me on being such a wonderful mother and that my children were absolute angels. Although this was not true all the time, they were generous in finding good excuses for when they were not. It also helped that the Rosita loved her Grandpa and had him wrapped around her pinky finger tightly (having never been subjected to female wiles of a younger generation before, he was especially susceptible). Of course, one of the worst lapses into demonic temper happened when the Open House was in full swing and the Dude imploded.

Secondly, they let me boss them around quite a bit. I got to tell them what to eat and how to eat it. I rearranged their furniture just how I wanted it. I reeducated them on how to ask for things nicely. =)

And, thirdly, they deferred to my superior judgement in many matters. Of course, that was why they asked me to be there. To add an "arty" touch to the affair. Within reason.

We also fulfilled one of our most important goals of the week: No blood was drawn.

So now you may all know me as 'Sposita: Open House Arranger Extraordinaire! Excellent, tyrannical, nearly painless service!

02 April 2007

Extra-Credit Svithe (in lieu of Sunday Conference)

So, after such spectacular attention during the Saturday sessions, it seemed improbable that I would actually get to listen to the Sunday sessions. And it wasn't. And although I had my husband break the Sabbath to buy cake ingredients (I had made a commitment to make this cake); and although I didn't listen to a lot of Conference because I was making said cake, I must declare: it was some d@*# fine chocolate cake with peppermint mousse filling and ganache!

I have to say there were some !!! talks: Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring gave spectacular talks that I will probably read and re-read. (I couldn't type their names without the middle initial. I tried, really I did!)

To make up for the lack of stimulating Conference coverage, I offer an additional thought that I had upon listening to Bonnie Parkin's talk on gratitude.

She mentioned at some time the 10 lepers and how only 1 of them came back to thank Him for the cleansing miracle that had taken place. It seems that when these lepers are discussed in various Sunday School lessons, the "how could they not?" aspect of the 9 "ungrateful" lepers seems to be a central theme.

I started thinking: What if, instead of looking at this as an event in the life of Christ, it was one of His parables?

My interpretation of this "parable" would be something like this:

Think of the 10 lepers as representative of the many blessings we recieve from Heavenly Father. Think of the 1 grateful leper as the percentage of thanks we give back to Our Father for all the many great gifts He gives to us that we have asked for. Does He revoke our blessings because we don't thank Him for them? Or worse - we don't even recognize them as blessings from Him? We write them off as happy coincidences or even claim we brought it about through our own merits. But no matter what, He lets us enjoy our blessings.

Each of us receives so much from Heavenly Father. We could thank Him all the day long, and it still wouldn't be long enough to thank Him for everything that we should be grateful for. (Sound King Benjamin-esque?) And the majority of the things we should be most grateful for, we don't usually think of thanking Him for.

I re-realized this when the Dude and I looked over an anatomy book and traced the various systems all over the body while I explained (in a vague sort of way) what they did and how they did it. Later that night as we prepared to say bedtime prayers, the Dude declared he didn't know what to be thankful for. I started listing all the things that we had learned about our bodies that day, and ended with this very impressive conclusion: "Heavenly Father designed our bodies to have all this cool stuff happen without us having to think about it. Isn't that cool?" He agreed and inserted some of those cool things into his prayer.

But it made me think: When was the last time (if there ever was a first time) that I thanked Heavenly Father for thinking of white blood cells? (the Dude was particularly impressed with them)

I am grateful that Our Father is willing to keep giving us gifts and giving them and giving them even though we don't notice nine tenths of the time. Although I don't consider myself ungrateful, I don't think I have earned my "Gratitude" Godhood patch, and certainly not my "Giving without Hope of Recognition or Reward" patch (or would that just be under the "Charity" patch requirements?). I'm glad He's got them and keeps renewing them. Eternally.