Feeling a bit rough today so I’m resting. Got a lot to do in the coming days and weeks (Good Lord I don’t want to think about how much!). Anyway, my body may be resting but my brain isn’t. After a day of OU study, learning about carbon footprints, my mind is drifting to other things:
As a dear friend announces her engagement, I’m remembering how Frank and I became engaged three years ago today. Only we didn’t really. We just announced it that way! I’d said right from the beginning that I had no interest in a boyfriend; I wanted a husband. I was a single mother with an autistic son (at that time also ADHD) and two very little girls. Boyfriends and romance were not an option. I needed a real man to take on the role of real husband, or I needed to be left alone. Seeing as Frank seemed to adore me right from the first, this wasn’t too much of an issue. Out of the blue was this wonderful man who wanted to take care of me, was happy to be father to children not his own (including one with some extreme behaviour, at that point) and who didn’t need me to earn his love. He was so definitely heaven-sent that I had no choice but to love him right back! 😀
We’ve been through ups and downs these past three years. It’s been a very rocky path, yet throughout it all Frank and I have rigidly stuck together. He’s everything I had ever dreamed of (prayed for) and more. He meets needs I never knew I had. We never argue (we disagree, but we never shout at one another or row or anything like that). It’s a love that is so much more than ‘romance’.
Having said that, I confess I am a little jealous of a couple of my friends’ romances. Actually it’s the foreign travel, luxury, [lack of kids] and wining and dining truth be told, but then I know that Frank and I have discovered a different kind of romance. Plus, on the same day that we officially got engaged, he gave me my first ever Valentine’s card. That’s gotta be worth some brownie points.
So here’s my (non-exhaustive) list of the definition of romance:
- sharing getting the children up and off to school
- taking it in turns to deal with the autistic child, so that we don’t lose our rag [as much]
- making her beloved a cup of coffee first thing in the morning
- finding he’s already taken out the rubbish because the dustmen are due tomorrow
- feeling work-worn and finding she’s got dinner all sorted
- feeling under-the-weather and knowing she can ask him to take over
- her doing the cleaning because he’s not so good at it
- him prompting the children to get ready for bed because she’s exhausted
- taking it in turns to get up in the night to see to the Night Owl ASD boy
- falling asleep curled up, skin to skin
- waking in the night after another nightmare and not being afraid because he’s here
- knowing she’s exhausted and offering to get her a drink when she says she’s thirsty and it’s the middle of the night
- him feeling fed up, but knowing that if he wants time out to play his online games, she’ll say yes
- waking in the morning, rolling over and holding her close
- him dealing with the poo, her dealing with the wee (two semi-continent children holds its own special joy)
- crying in his arms when everything is too much
- the twinkle in the eye, his alone
- that special smile, hers alone
- laughing together, every day
- reading theological books together
- intense theological discussions that no one else would put up with
- intense intellectual discussions that no one else would put up with
- him listening to her rant
- her listening to him talk about fossils/dinosaurs/history
- knowing this love never changes, because each is loved for who they are, no more, no less
The most romantic thing Frank ever did for me:
The first time I’d gone out and he’d offered to babysit, I got back to find my son had attacked him. Most men would’ve made some sort of nice apology and found a way to back out of the relationship. As soon as I saw Frank covered in vaseline from head to toe, and the malicious glint in Prince’s eye (very seldom seen that malicious look, it was horrible), I thought that would be the last I’d see of him. But no, not Frank. Instead, after I’d got the young man to bed and told him not to move in no uncertain terms(!), Frank held me and told me he loved me. And for the first time, I began to believe that here was something, someone, worth hanging onto. I did not deserve the love he gave so freely. He has continued in this way, quietly persevering. Frank is my hero.
All these things teach me, daily, about the forgiving, nurturing, patient, ever-gracious love of God. And I learn to lean on Him in the same way.
Let nothing trouble you.
Let nothing frighten you.
All things pass.
God never changes.
Patience gains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone is enough.
St. Teresa de Àvila
Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm;
for love is strong as death,
passion fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire,
a raging flame.
Song of Songs 8:6 RSV