Our house is slowly returning to normal (if such a thing exists when there's a four-year-old in the mix) after my parents were in town for a week and a bit. I always love when my parents come to visit, but this time there was an extra bit of special..ness(?), as the last full day they were in town was also their 42nd wedding anniversary.
That's a long time, man.
The strength of my parents' relationship was something that I probably took for granted growing up. Sure, they occasionally fought and argued in our presence. And they probably fought and argued even more when we weren't around to witness it. But through it all, their commitment to (and love for) each other was never in doubt.
And so on their 42nd anniversary, when I came downstairs after putting my daughter to bed to see them flopped on my couch, Mom leaning against Dad as they enjoyed a (rare in my house) quiet moment near the end of their visit, I wasn't surprised. Nor was I surprised when Mom changed positions so Dad could massage her tired feet. My parents have always been affectionate.
And an hour or two later, after I said goodnight to them and was in my bedroom with my wife, massaging her neck and back while we watched a little TV, I realized just how much I'd learned from them about how to be in a loving marriage.
They've logged 42 years, I haven't even hit 7. But whatever bar they set, I look forward to challenging it.
Want to know the secrets to a good marriage? While all of this advice may not be found in a marriage counselling guide, it probably should be.
Would your response be the same as this if your partner announced she was going back to school to get her Master's degree?
This fall, as my daughter loads up her backpack and heads off to kindergarten for the very first time, her mom will be packing up her books and lunch right alongside her. This fall, my wife is going back to school.
My wife and I actually met at university as so-called mature students—I had graduated with my undergrad degree a few years prior, but was taking a fifth year to upgrade some credits for a (failed) run at teacher's college; my wife had gone to college and worked for a few years before deciding to do a university degree. So, going "back" to school is nothing particularly new to either of us. But I'll admit, after this long, I sort of thought we were done.
Then one night . . .
"I'm thinking about doing a Master's, is that crazy?"
In one sense, the answer is . . . probably. I mean, we're not struggling financially by any means, but we're certainly not sitting on piles and piles of disposable income. We're carrying a fair bit of consumer debt and this is going to add to that burden.
But that's not the answer I gave nor is it the answer I believe.
My wife worked in politics for quite a few years before deciding to start her own business from home. She's growing her business slowly but surely, and starting to carve out a niche for herself. This, in and of itself, is an amazing thing for my daughter to get to see firsthand. A strong, independent woman making a name for herself in a career she's passionate about? That's top-shelf role modelism.
But she also saw a chance to make herself more of an asset for her clients and, at the same time, indulge one of her great passions—learning. She's showing my daughter that life doesn't have to follow a predetermined path, that careers don't have to be cookie cutter. And most importantly, she's doing something brave. She's taking a chance and following her passion.
I've written before about how glad I am my wife is a strong woman. She's an amazing mother and a large part of that stems from the fact that she's living the sort of life I hope my daughter grows up to live.
"I'm thinking about doing a Master's, is that crazy?"
No, Amy. I think it's fucking amazing.
We were very near our collective wit's end.
We'd spent a full day together in the car—my wife, my kid, and I—driving from our home outside of Ottawa to the suburban Philadelphia area. This was followed by sharing two nights in a small hotel room and nearly two full days together at an amusement park. It was a great trip, to be sure, but close quarters like this tend to grate on any family, I think.
So while we were having an amazing time most of the time, moments of annoyance and frustration were bubbling to the surface. The kid was a little less patient with everything and I was a little less patient with her as a result.
It was when we were sitting in the audience in a little amphitheater tucked away in one corner of the amusement park, the kid visibly angry because some adults got to be part of the show but she did not, that we reached peak annoyance. The kid, annoyed that she wasn't getting her way; me, annoyed that her annoyance was preventing her from enjoying a show she should otherwise love; my wife, annoyed at me for being annoyed at her.
I ended up walking away a bit to calm myself down. The show finished and we reconvened as a family to discuss our next move.
"Do you want to stay for the parade before we go back to the hotel?" my wife asked the kid.
"Yes please," she replied.
I was annoyed but didn't say so. We'd watched the parade the day before, I knew it was going to be the same show. I'd enjoyed our time at the park immensely, mostly, but I was ready to call it a day. But the more time we spent in the open air of the park, the less time we spent cooped up in the hotel or some restaurant. I offered to stroll up to get us popcorn and get away from the madness for a few minutes, then we settled down together and waited for the parade.
The parade is broken up by three song and dance performances along the route. During the second of the three numbers, a few kids get plucked from the audience to participate. On the first day, the kids chosen were quite near us and the kid was upset that she wasn't one of the lucky ones. On the second day, I realized we were too far down the route—the performers weren't close enough to us and I figured we were in for another pouting fit.
But, as luck would have it, the kids that the performer invited weren't particularly keen to participate. And while she stood there trying to coax them in, my daughter jumped to her feet and, with mom's approval, ran the 15 feet or so to the performer and started dancing beside her.
She twirled and spun and jumped, thrilled to be part of the show. The performer danced right along side her, the two of them spinning and twirling away while the music played. After a few minutes, the performer took note of my kid's patented spinning kick move and asked her to teach it to her, giving yet another thrill to a kid who was already having the time of her life.
The song ended and my daughter ran back to us, beaming with pride, and red-faced with exhaustion.
"Kiddo, you were in the parade! That was amazing!"
"Yea, it was!"
"And did that lady ask you to teach her your dance move?"
"Yea, it's a good move, Daddy."
A good move indeed, kiddo. A good move indeed.
If you liked this, you might also like "The Five Stages of Bedtime Grief" and "In Praise Of Stories: The Adventures Of Harold And Harriet."