Faith & Truth / Family Life / The Social Network

The Expected and the Unexpected

Yesterday, our firstborn (a mere technicality given his twin status) stood up in a makeshift Indiana courtroom (can a ‘ballroom’ in a Convention center serve as a courtroom???  apparently, yes.), vowed to uphold the Constitutions of the state and the Union, and essentially comport himself in a manner worthy of the office he was sworn into. Yes, my friends. More attorneys entered our ranks yesterday. Including one that I prefer to call ‘son.’ I don’t know what, exactly, I expected when sons #1 & 2 entered our world 26 years ago, but I’m confident that ‘attorney’ did not make my short list. I have nothing against them. In fact, I’m sure I have a couple of friends who happened to be lawyers. I’ve read a John Grisham novel or two. I LOVE Sydney Carton. So, obviously, other than ‘ambulance chasing,’ fear mongering cloaked as potential ‘class actions’ and the infamous “if the glove don’t fit, you must acquit” of years gone by, I harbor no ill will toward the profession. I cannot help but love the Shakespearean edict stolen by Don Henley and the Eagles: “Let’s kill all the lawyers.” But I don’t want to be rid of them. I just like singing along. And, as I’ve watched my lawyer son pursue his law degree, study incessantly for the Bar exam, and speak and think and process and consider in a fashion both admirable and intimidating, I realize that I never expected him to be so thoughtful, erudite, and just plain smart. (and his twin is a Nuclear Engineer. Didn’t expect that either.)

Today, he’s back at work. Lawyering. His twin is analyzing something. It’s nuclear-related I am sure. That one goes home to his new wife each evening, and well — neither twin needs his mom that much these days. Neither does their younger brother, but I keep managing to fool myself on that score — he’s just in his first year of grad school. He’s not married yet. I still do his laundry if he comes home with a full hamper. He calls. Sometimes. I’m not superfluous just yet. I keep telling myself that, anyway.

In several moments filled with significant judges imparting judicial and legal wisdom yesterday, one of them suggested that all of those young, untried attorneys should anticipate that the ‘expected’ and the ‘unexpected’ will present themselves along the ‘twists and turns’ inherent to the profession. Over the past few years, I find myself reflecting on the ‘unexpected.’ I didn’t expect that motherhood would fill my heart with purpose and pleasure. It did. I didn’t expect my heart to break in so many pieces — amongst them shards of joy and hope — when my boys grew up and left home. It did. But I also didn’t expect my heart to nearly burst with pride & pleasure at each college graduation, each entrance to grad school, the next round of graduations, a wedding, (how could I have seen that those things were coming?) and the gatherings around family tables filled with laughter, debate, and, unexpectedly, genuine friendship. The phone calls, the facetime conversations, the occasional group emails to rail against opposing alma maters, the economy, or socialized healthcare, and the returns to the homestead — and my heart fills again. With thanksgiving.

I’m learning, like those new lawyers just sworn in yesterday, to embrace the expected and the unexpected. That life, and its changes, is full of twists and turns. I’m no lawyer, but I’m smart enough to know that, with just this one life, I can choose to live it focused on the losses, the sorrows, the hardships, or I can choose to live it aware of the blessings, the privilege, the joy. With a family like mine, a glorious changing of the seasons, and the promise of “life to the full” still to come, I expect I should take an oath of my own. So here goes:

I, (state your name 😉 ) do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the inevitable life changes common to us all, and will view them in their proper context and privilege. I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation. And I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. So help me God. I won’t be able to do it without His help, as it happens. What about you?

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