A Child’s Vow

I was seven.

Most people consider the age of seven as the age of reason: it’s when a child has developed a moral conscience and can be held accountable for his/her actions to a certain degree. Telling a lie at age three, for example, would be dismissed with a mother’s chuckle. By seven, a lie is usually punished with, in my case, a knowing, piercing glare and a stern rhetorical question.

Besides learning a little more about “right” and “wrong”, like most seven-year-old’s, I had my share of scraped knees and tomboyish foolery. Trees and rough bike rides were my best friends, and my sister (two years younger) was the epitome of everything I didn’t want to be. While she was meticulously fashioning her doll’s hair into elaborate braids, I was secretly debating if I should cut my doll’s hair shorter so it wouldn’t tangle so much. She dreamed of a house, a kitchen, and most of all, a husband. A smart husband. Maybe a doctor!

I remember scoffing at her. The reason in me was already growing against the word “marriage.” There was no way I, WS, would marry. And least of all, to a doctor. EVERYONE wants to marry a doctor. I wasn’t going to be everyone.

“Okay, make a promise!” my sister leered.

“I promise not to marry a doctor. Or anyone!” I jeered right back.

And for 20 years, that vow held fast. As a college student, I steered away from the pre-med men, and then in grad school, meeting someone with the term “medical school” attached to them was always a sort of shadow hanging over my conscience. The label scared me. The label it would add to ME scared me. My community was filled with young women being hitched to young doctors. It looked like a cult of women going on random cruises and beach side vacations with their “hubby”, sporting glistening rocks on their fingers and designer bags on their shoulders, and worst of all, seemed to call themselves “doctor’s wife” before ANYTHING else. Their identities were tied to their husband’s in a way that no other profession seems to these days (I mean, Amal Ramzi Clooney doesn’t say “I am an actor’s wife!” as an introduction. It simply isn’t said).

I, for one, wasn’t going to be that. I had a vow to keep, after all.

Until I met Surgeon.

It took nearly three years, but the vow slowly dissembled it self, dissolving with understanding, trust, and as clichéd as it sounds, a profound love for an individual who is so much more than a surgeon. For now, suffice it to say that my seven-year-old self is a little disappointed, but then laughs and whispers,

“At least he lets you climb trees!”

What more does a wife need?


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