08 May 2013

Happy Anniversary to my parents!

This post is a good week overdue, oops (must take after my father, heehee).
The last week of April, my parents celebrated 34 years of marriage. And even though life - and marriage - are not perfect, I think the relationship that they have built and nurtured is a pretty darn good one. I've still caught them making out in the kitchen when I come home for visits, if that is any indication on love surviving two kids, job changes, too many cats to count, 3.5 dogs, moves, and the grind of the day-to-day. I absolutely credit my parents' marriage as a role model for my own and I feel lucky to have had such an example.
Mom and dad showing off their years of dance lessons at my wedding
- Find pleasure in the little things. It is borderline dorky how excited my dad gets about going grocery shopping with my mom. He sees it as an opportunity to spend time together and chat. I don't know if my mom quite shares that same level of enthusiasm (my dad is a bargain shopper and while he's good at finding deals, it is an arduous process and takes 10x as long as when my mom goes by herself), but she indulges him and invites him along sometimes. Makes his day. Seriously.

- When you live with someone, it is inevitable that you will have disagreements and fights. It doesn't mean you love each other any less. My parents rarely fought when I was a kid, but they are only human and disagreements happened. I remember my mom telling me that when you live with someone, you're going to fight with them and the key is fighting fairly and productively so you can both find a solution and grow as a couple.

- When your spouse cooks you dinner, it is your job to be the dish fairy. My mom is a great cook and takes care of making most of the meals. And it's my dad's job to do the dishes afterwards. This arrangement works pretty well for Mr. Sweetie and I too (only he does the cooking because we like edible food).

- ... But if the dish fairy REALLY hates washing the pots and pans, you give them a pass. My dad hates the pots and the pans. So they are excluded from dish fairy duties. Mr. Sweetie gives me the same pass sometimes when it comes to wiping down the countertops, as he'll often do it while I'm finishing up the last of the dishes. I always appreciate it when he does this.

- Compromise. For years, my mom was the one who got the family up and moving in the morning. But before she started knocking on bedroom doors each morning, she would take about 30 minutes of quiet time for herself to turn the lights on low, sip her tea, read a book, and enjoy the silence. My dad slept through all this, smartly waiting until the mayhem of his two kids getting ready for school passed through the door and onto the schoolbus. But then the kids grew up and moved out and suddenly there wasn't any morning mayhem for my dad to wait out and instead he saw this as a golden opportunity to hang out more with mom before they went their separate ways to work. Only - my dad's idea of a good morning is the polar opposite of my mom's - turn on all the lights, talk to himself, talk to my mom, sing to himself, sing to my mom, and make a general racket. After about a week of this, mom put her foot down - if dad insisted on getting up early with her, he needs to be quiet as a mouse for the first 30 minutes AND no turning all the lights up bright. And so, that is what they do, even though I know my dad employs alot of willpower not to loudly be-bop around the house. Compromise is love, for sure.

- Make peace with your spouse's quirks. They are part and parcel of the person you love the most. My dad is late. every hour. of every day. My mom holds a grudge like nobody's business. My dad talks. alot. all of the time. The weirdest things make my mom cranky. My dad talks so loudly on the phone, you'd think he might as well save on the phone bill and just yell to the person instead. Sure, these quirks could drive my mom and dad up the wall, but they don't let that happen. Mom will just tell dad he needs to be somewhere an hour earlier than he actually needs to be there (or she will just get in the car and leave him behind if it comes down to it, ha!). Dad just leaves mom alone if she is cranky, knowing that she will come around eventually. After 34 years of marriage they've perfected the art of "letting it go."

- Show your love by doing the dirty work. I'd say that mom does most of the housework around the house, but my dad pays her back by taking care of the really messy things. Like disposing of any dead animals that expire in the yard (or in a bucket of water during my mom's epic Battle of The Great Chipmunk Infestation). Best story was when mom was mowing the lawn and almost ran over a bat. She freaked out and called to my dad to get a shovel and take care of it. Just as he's about to scoop it up, he leans down, takes a closer look, and says "Molly, this thing was made in China." Turns out my brother left a toy bat out in the yard, ha!

- Do something together. My mom and dad are very involved with their local parish and often you will find them volunteering at Church together, whether it is acting as greeters at the beginning of Mass, helping to run the Holiday Bazaar, or any number of things. You'll also find them attending Mass together (though if my dad is running late, my mom WILL leave him behind and they will take two cars, ha!). For years they also took dance lessons. Not only does volunteering or taking up a hobby together encourage them to spend time with each other, it also gives them something to discuss, as well as goals to work towards.

- Summer evenings are best spent side by side in Adirondack chairs, sharing chips, salsa, and margaritas. To mom and dad, unwinding in the Adirondack chairs in the yard while chatting about their day is better than going out to dinner at a fancy restaurant any day. And this isn't just a Friday night treat, any evening with decent weather is fair game. For our wedding almost seven years ago, my mom topped our wedding cake with adirondack chairs (accented with mini beach towels, running shoes, and golf clubs that she made out of clay). And whenever I see an adirondack chair, I think of my parents, sitting in the front yard at sunset, watching the world go by while enjoying each other's company.
Adirondack chairs facilitate communication, relaxation, and encourage you to spend time with the one you love
- You don't need material wealth to wake up feeling like a lottery winner every day. Ask either one of my parents - and they will each say I feel like the luckiest one, what did I do to deserve such a great spouse. They each think the other is the greatest person ever (quirks and all). We were never a family with a big house, expensive car, lavish vacations. Those things simply aren't important to my parents. What is important is the way my dad looks at my mom and the way he talks about her - 34 years on, he still has the utmost respect for her and appreciates everything about her. What is important is the way my mom takes care of my dad - cooking him dinner, getting him that second glass of milk so he doesn't have to get up from the table. Their inside jokes, their patience with each other, all that is what really matters to them. And I'm 100% sure they wake up every morning happier and more fulfilled than any lottery winner because they always have someone they can count on each and every day.

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! And cheers to many more great years!


Beth said...

Such a great post with so many good points. Thanks Caroline -- I learned a thing or two! Happy anniversary to your two lovely parents!

Dawn said...

What an incredibly touching blog. I could see the deep love between them in Burlington, and definitely learned from this post for myself. Happy anniversary to your mom & dad!

Katie said...

What a touching post with so many great points. I definitely learned a few things :)

Kristin Andrews said...

What wonderful insights! I love this!! Your parents have a special marriage, for sure!!

Caroline said...

Awwww, thank you guys! Not a day goes by where I don't think "WWMPD (what would my parents do)." I feel like I learned from the best - knowing that neither my mom or dad are perfect and yet they only focus on the good in each other, not the bad/quirks/faults. I'm so glad you guys enjoyed the post :)