When I dreamt about being a parent, each dream consisted of giving my children more than I was given growing up. It wasn't about me criticizing my parents or some type of self imposed pity session for myself but a stark realization of the needs that I had that couldn't be met. Physically those needs were always met, I had a roof over my head and a Mother who adored me. Two sisters to watch out for me and a Grandmother who would lay her own needs aside to assist us. But it didn't take a genius to realize that our home was not perfect Norman Rockwell painting.
I knew from a very early age that my parents were different from my classmates parents. If you could have put the right words in a 6 year old mouth it would be easily said that my parents didn't really like each other very much. I have one memory that stands alone in my files of childhood mental snapshots of my parents showing affection. So, it was no surprise when my Mom, while driving to school one morning announced that they were divorcing. I remember not feeling devastated or confused. I felt relieved. At age 6 I felt relieved that my parents were divorcing.
I didn't want my own children to ever feel that way about Me or the home I would build for them. I wanted to build a marriage so strong that not even a little hurricane could make it fall. I want them to always have security and be able to, later in their life, look back at their childhood and say the one constant were their parents strong relationship.
My in-laws are going on 39 years of marriage. I watch them closely and write mental notes on the beauty of this marriage. It is easy to see that the love they have for each other is still as strong, if not stronger, as it was that day in November all those years ago when they said "I do". One morning while they were visiting I overheard a conversation that took place between the two of them. So simple, yet still so poignant. As his beautiful bride of 39 years was cooking breakfast for the family, he gently came behind her and quietly whispered in her ear "You look ravishing today" to which she giggled and kissed him gently on his cheek and went back to cooking. I tear up as I recall that morning. The love they have for each other is so simple yet so concrete. Sure, they stumbled along the way while raising their little family. They accidentally left nicks on their kids as they strive to raise them the best they could. But the one thing, the one important thing they did right for their kids? Fell in love with each other anew each and every day.
I thank my in-laws for their marriage because it blessed me with their son. He is his father in every way. Quiet. Gentle. Highly intelligent. A man of integrity and fully devoted to his family. We've lived through worse hurricanes than the one blowing through New York this weekend. Our 9 year marriage has already had to grieve 2 miscarriages, one near death experience, uncertainty, extended family battles. Each time though, we asses the damage left. We pick up the pieces, rebuild and move on. We've learned through these times how to make the rebuilding happen sooner. Each time we become more in sync than the last. This last hurricane? Heh, it had nothing on us. We got through it together and if it thought it was going to ruin me? I had it fooled because now? Well, it proved to Derek and I just how strong we really are. Part of my cocooning did include the security I felt in the presence of my husband. He held me up and kept me strong so much so that I felt an ease by his side.
Our marriage alone is more than I had and I know, in the end, it's the most important thing my kids will ever need to help them get through their own hurricanes.