Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lucky in Love!

I'm not in love, in the traditional sense.  Strains of Karen Carpenter's songs are not dancing through my head.  No one is sending me freshly arranged bouquets on a weekly basis.  I'm not even anticipating a special dinner and night out on any given Friday night.  Nevertheless, I'm in love!  

I recently had a round of conversations on e-Harmony with a very nice gentleman.  Over about a month and half, I learned a good deal about his life, his family, and their history together.  I was anxious to meet him.  He seemed a good conversationalist (at least on-line), and had a great sense of humor.  He seemed to have his head on straight having raised his children without a companion, maintained a solid academic career, and kept up with family and friends.  And he seemed to manage it all with a balanced of modesty, humility, and grace.  On the screen he seemed a great match for me, and given our 29 points of compatibility, I felt sure we'd have at least a shot a good friendship.  But, alas, nothing seems to have come of the few extended phone calls and a single meeting over lunch.  Ah, poor me!

I do feel a little "poor me" about it, too.  How many academically-anchored, available, African American  men over fifty are out there and looking for a women with whom they can spend the rest of their lives?  Not too many, and I'd bet my lunch money (on payday) on that!  

So, I went into a bit of a tale spin for a week or so over this one.  Yes, I'll admit it.  This one really got me good.  As my mother would say, "This one got your goat!"  This one got my goat and my chickens, too.  In a few conversations with friends, bless their hearts, I came to see that many of the people I know believe that there is somebody out there for every one of us.  We just have to find that somebody.  MInd you: most of these believers are married, for more than ten years, happily.  Their believes are anchored at their cores.  There's no shaking them.  They have learned from their own lived experience that the idea of partnership is inevitable, it is part of the path.  All you have to do is want it, and it can be so.

Of course, there are the obvious questions:
  • Huh?
  • What's your (empirical, not anecdotal) proof?
  • What about nuns and priests?
  • What about the stats that say there just aren't as many available men out there?  (I'm assuming heterosexual relationships, in this posting.)
  • What about the lived experience of people like me.

As these conversations with friends continue, I hear that, really, it's all about what you want.  It all depends on what you put out there in the Universe.  Are you putting out a true and authentic desire for a relationship?  Or, are you giving a real relationship lip service, and telling the Universe that you really "vant to be alone!" through your behaviors?  

I find the whole matter confusing, to tell you the truth.  Mainly, I am confused because, I want the weekly delivery of a fresh bouquet, and I want the independence that I've enjoyed for so long.  Peering over the fence at other people's apparently very green backyards, I see a certain degree of security in marriage and long-term commitments.  If the relationship is working and healthy, you've got a partner for as long as you both shall live.  Through the ups and downs, you've got a friend who loves you for you, and welcomes your love right back.  That sounds wonderful to me on my side of the fence.  

But, I heard the funniest and most perplexing thing a few months ago.  I was listening to a woman speak about an impending decision she had to make.  She really didn't know which way to go and those of us listening to her expressed our support for whatever decision she made.  We all knew how hard it was to have to make important life-changing decisions on our own as single people.  We all put her on our prayer lists in that very moment.  Before she left us, she said, "Well, I'll have to talk with my husband about it when I get home tonight!"  Now, as far as I knew this woman is a Consecrated Virgin, a "lay" nun, of sorts.  She's not member of a typical order, but she's living a nun's lifestyle, nonetheless.  That means there's no husband at home any night.  So, I gave her sort of a funny look with my "Whaddaya mean?"

She came back with a snappy, and very happy, "God and I will discuss this. He's the best husband I could possibly have!"  With that, she strutted off to her next engagement.  All I could do was remember my Bible verses real fast.

Once I wiped the funny look off my face, I realized I really had to admire this woman.  She has a faith that truly supports her whole life.  For her - that's why she's chosen this particular spiritual path - God is her lover, friend, husband, companion, her everything, as Barry White would put it.  She doesn't have to worry about the "till death do us part" thing, either!  She is, in fact, quite 'lucky' in love, if you'll pardon my secular reference, please.

I juggle three ball in thick cultural, spiritual, and emotional air: the notion of God as husband; the matchmaker Universe; and the continuing single life lived with everyday joy.    

We live in a cultural context that privileges (still) the coupled, the paired up, people, especially if their are children.  Long ago, I found my comfort with tables for one, single-payer double occupancy, and other paired-up conveniences.  I'm good with that now; it's how I live as a single woman, as a single mom.  As for the matchmaker Universe?  Well, I put out there that I'd love to find someone, but I can't just stand by the phone waiting for the Universe to call.  I've got a life to live, and I am not tragically single.  

Yet, I am not on the nun's path, lay or otherwise.  But the idea of God as my companion and helper in this life is attractive and familiar.  As far as I know,though, God is willing to share his love and his women (men, too).  We get to lean on God, regardless of our relationship status.  Last I heard, we can lean hard and heavy when the going gets rough.  

So, I've decided what I'm going to do.  I'm going to let God do the juggling for me, and I'm not going to worry about it.  I've got a life to live and a little one to steward.  More, I'm going to be amazed by the love that surrounds me all the time.  Fortunately, I don't have to wait for the fresh bouquets or the Karen Carpenter 8-track replays.  

Sandals, Crocs, or Sneakers - The big stuff

Time was when I was in charge. When my daughter was much younger - oh, about two - and I got to decide what she would wear, eat, read, learn, etc. Now, though, at six, she believes she’s in charge. Quite frankly, I’ve come around to that understanding, too. Not that she’s in control of everything, mind you. But, the big stuff? Well, she’s got a handle on it. And, her grip is getting stronger.

When I say the “big stuff” I mean she has an awful lot to say about what she’ll wear, how she wants me to braid her hair for the week, what shoes she thinks match her outfits on any given day. These are the big things for a six-year old if you think about it. How she presents herself to the world is important, and at six, she’s figured that out.

Many of my friends tell me that this is right on time for a girl. It will only get worse as she gets older, they threaten. “You just wait . . .,” they say. I imagine she’ll become more opinionated. She’s my girl, after all. There will be tension between us, as there is now with regard to clothes matching, shoes, and determining what still fits and what doesn’t.

Really, I can’t get angry about our disagreements at a very deep level. I do want her to follow my directions, especially when we are short on time in the mornings. But, I also want her to learn how to make up her own mind, live authentically, listen to her own heart and mind. So, disagreeing over a skort or shorts for day camp is a hassle but not a tragic misstep in her development. Instead, I’m glad she’s got a mind of her own and is willing to take on a primary authority figure to defend her desires.

Some will say I’m just spoiling her. I say I’m raising a girl who loves herself, enjoys the power and responsibility of making up her own mind. I’m raising a girl who was not as timid about her own right to her own opinion as I was when I was six. Being honest about who you are and what you believe, then having the courage to stand up for your ideas takes practice. My girl is getting practice, every time we clash - sandals, crocs, or sneakers - every time she decides what she wants and lets me know. She won’t win every argument - I’m still the mom - but she will get practice at the “big stuff”! You go, girl!