My mom and I don’t talk a lot. At least, our conversations aren’t usually among those that stand out as memorable or life-changing or ultra profound. Today was different though. I was leaning on the kitchen bar, looking into the skillet of pasta sauce my mom was stirring on the glass-top stove. The conversation began as your typical “girl talk,” and at this point, I was explaining to her that yeah, I want a guy who is a spiritual giant and intelligent and funny and all of that, but I want to be in love with him. I want to fall head-over-heels in love; I don’t want to marry a guy just because he is a good guy.
“Is that bad?” I asked.
“Well, if you get a little older and you’re still single, you may just consider that ‘falling head-over-heels in love’ is not the most important thing when it comes to marriage. Remember the Powells’ daughter?”
Mindy Powell had gone on several dates with a particular young man. He was a steady, kind-hearted guy, but he was balding in his mid-twenties and a little overweight. She cut things off because she felt zero romantic feelings toward him. After fifteen or so years, she was thirty-seven and still single. This guy was still single as well, and he was still interested. So she married him. She married him because she knew he would make a good husband and father, and she didn’t see any other options coming around anytime soon. “And they are very happy,” Mom concluded.
“Yeah, I know, but…”
“But,” my mom cut in, “at twenty years old, I think falling in love is something you can want.”
She poured in another can of tomato sauce.
“Mom, were you in love with Dad when you guys got married? Or were you thinking, ‘Man, he’s 27 and I’m only 19, and I really don’t want to do this, but he is really strong in the gospel, so I guess I better’?”
She laughed and turned to pick up the cutting board covered in sliced zucchini. She slid the zucchini rounds into the skillet. “No, Kaitlin, that’s not how it happened. I was very in love with Dad.”
“Really? I mean, are you just saying that? Because I really want to know.”
“Of course I was. Really. And I still am.”
“Yeah, but is it the same as it was then?”
“No.” She stuck her pinky in the sauce and tasted it. “No, the love is different now.” Then, as she tossed in a few shakes of basil and oregano, Mom explained how love changes. She explained that when you go through broken transmissions and miscarriages and super tight budgets and six kids with a person, your love changes. It gets deeper. It goes beyond the twitterpation of young love.
“But we still go on a date every week.” She let her head rest on her shoulder and smiled, looking into the sauce. “And I still catch my breath a little from this excitement I get when I see his car coming down the road.” She laughed then, a quiet, private laugh that had had memories behind it.
Later, after the vegetable lasagna was eaten, I was finishing up the dishes and saw my dad’s car approaching the driveway.
“Dad’s home!”Mom looked out the window. “See? I felt a little rush of something when you said that.” She patted me on the back then turned and walked over to kiss Dad as he came up the stairs.