When you become an English teacher, you’re quickly thrown into a genre specialty. You either primarily teach and therefore become an expert in British literature, or World literature, or even courses such as AP Language. For the first part of my career, I was the Ninth Grade Literature gal. A survey of literature course, pretty liberating to pick among literally anything from the canon of literary works. But after five years of teaching The Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, Of Mice and Men, and Tuesdays with Morrie, I needed a reprieve. I was given American Literature as my new niche and as most English teachers will tell you, you either love it or hate it. American Lit pretty much has to be taught chronologically. It’s just doesn’t work any other way. That means you start from the very beginning with some less than gripping works such as Native American Myths and Legends, to colonial literature such as John Smith's The General History of Virginia(a real page turner). Most English teachers plow right through 17thcentury colonial literature and even the Calvinistic doctrines that pave the road to the American Revolution of the 18thcentury. We all want to get to the really gripping content of the 19thcentury; the American Renaissance, the Transcendentalists, works by Hawthorne, Melville, and Whitman. Something even the students can really sink their teeth into. Or, at least, pretend to.
But out of all the men who literally set the voice and narrative of the early years of our country, one woman stands out. Anne Bradstreet is considered the first published American female voice. A poet, a Puritan, a mother of eight. Need I say more? Her vulnerability about domestic life was truly the first voice to the hashtag, #thestruggleisreal.
My students were never fans of Bradstreet. I didn’t care. I would still make them read her words, dramatically pausing in hopes that at least one, just one of them would pick up on her juxtaposed harsh colonial realities side by side with divine hope. Anne would write about the burning of her house, literally all her possessions in a landscape where insurance nor Amazon prime could replace what was lost. And yet in that same stanza, she would emphatically claim, “it was all vanity” anyways. Thank you, Lord, for removing what was hindering me from you, her words would echo. Talk about a reality check. Anne was grounded, real, and laser focused on her Savior, and her salvation.
One of my favorite poems is entitled, To My Dear and Loving Husband.Relatively short for her normal multi-page narratives, Anne takes a moment to rejoice in something so many seem to take for granted; their spouse.
Today, eleven years after saying “I do” to my best friend of over sixteen years,
I want to do the same.
I want to celebrate and honor my dear and loving husband who has patiently waded the waters of change, uncertainty, heartbreak, disappointment, and in the days to come, anticipation, and joy.
Here is what Bradstreet had to say about her husband;
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were lov'd by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole Mines of Gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that Rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee, give recompence.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold I pray.
Then while we live, in love lets so persevere,
That when we live no more, we may live ever.
Here is what I have to say about mine.
Happy Anniversary to my beloved, my dear and loving husband.
To my dear and loving husband, I met at sixteen and did not know,
That a triple blind date to Applebee’s would lead to a friendship that would grow.
By my senior prom I had this feeling, there was more here than a fling
And three years later on Christmas Eve eve, you surprised me with a ring.
We worked our way through college, commuting up and down.
Only 44 miles separated us, from town to little town.
But by May of 2007, ready or not the date was said.
I graduated on Sunday and the following Saturday, we wed.
Our wedding was simple and was perfect, all I wanted was your “I do.”
And behind the tears, we choked them out, and off away we flew.
Marriage proved a little tricky, navigating how we both were raised.
By side by side, we have remained, unwavering. Unfazed.
We moved five times in ten years. Raised a teenager and two pups.
We were just kids when we fell in love and now we’re both grownups.
Seizures didn’t slow us down. Nor more college, nor more careers.
Throughout it all we’ve never been shy to express our vulnerability and fears.
Starting our little family proved more than a little trying.
But knowing I would always have you, would stop my selfish crying.
For years I would continue to push myself and my body far too long,
Last summer after another loss, you held my hand and said, “be strong.”
God gave you strength and wisdom, and patience during those storms.
And surprise, surprise by October, two little heartbeats had formed.
Just weeks away from their births, you are so ready for our little boys.
Maybe not the diapers, nor the sleep deprivation, the unknown, or the noise.
But my dear and loving husband, there is nothing you can’t do.
Looking back, you’ve proved it, after all that we’ve been through.
So, let’s look ahead to laughter, to little faces, and to play.
This love we share is one that I can in no way ever repay.
Eleven years of humility, of fresh starts, and an often “you’re right.”
Thank you, my dear and loving husband, I’m so honored to be your wife.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation