While our peers were disco dancing my high school sweetheart and I got married. Before it was cool. Before Madonna thought it was a good idea. Before the crowd decided there was nothing better to do.
We got married and we stayed married because we didn’t own luggage. True story. Selfish, young, and dumb, we fought. At any given time, one of us always wanted to walk away from the sacrifices and demands of married life and go disco dancing. But we didn’t, because there was nothing to put our clothes in except black, plastic garbage bags, and that would have been humiliating. So, we hung in there.
In the beginning, we had our pride and not much else. We started out stupid, poor and prideful. Thirty-four years later, we became the best of ourselves.
We stayed married and had babies. Our peers called our babies, “Drape Apes” and “Carpet Munchers.” And then they went disco dancing. We stayed home and learned how to take care of other human beings, putting their needs before our own.
“I have no patience. I could never have children,” said our teachers and professors, and then they showed us slides of their dogs. We smiled, went home, and went to work. We wiped bottoms and kissed boo-boos. We discovered that no one is born patient. Or selfless. Or amazing. They are acquired skills like disco dancing.
Our babies grew up and challenged everything we thought we knew. We hung in there, drawing lines in the sand.
When our oldest son inevitably flopped his big, hairy teenage toe over the line, I chopped his toe off (metaphorically speaking,) only to have him grow a new toe and flop it over the line—again and again.
I complained to my best friend, “Consistent? Under the words consistent parenting in the dictionary you’ll find my picture. I chop that boy’s toe off every single time he flops it over the line. Every. Single. Time.”
“Maybe, you’re using too sharp a knife,” she said—wise woman my best friend.
And we hung in there.
Last Saturday we celebrated our oldest son’s wedding and watched our ten grandchildren disco dance their way through the reception. They break danced and hip hopped and strutted. We laughed and clapped and rejoiced—surrounded. My husband and I danced, literally, surrounded by our children and grandchildren.
We own luggage now and all the other stuff we were told we would never have because we got married and had children. We have lots of stuff and could have more stuff if we wanted it.
But this next part I’m going to whisper.
Thirty-four years later we discovered that better than stuff, better than disco dancing, we have the best of ourselves because we have them and they have us.
Linda (Dancing With the Stars) Zern