Yes, it's Marriage Monday, a little late this month due to the holiday (and I must thank e-Mom for the call on that--I NEVER would have gotten a post done on July 5th--thank you!). I have to admit I had a tough time choosing a title from the options given to us:
• Long-Distance Grand-parenting: What Works for Us
• The Wisdom of Our Elders is Welcome (in Small Doses)
• Tips for Caring for Aging Parents
• In-Laws & Outlaws: My Story of Forgiveness
We live close to our parents and our kids have grown up with their grandparents. Our parents have never been ones to dish out advice, but graciously give us space to figure things out on our own, while being available if we have questions. I wouldn't consider them "aging" or in need of our care. In fact, yesterday at church someone guessed my mom was ten years younger than she is. And I can't say we've had any huge conflicts or hard feelings with them to warrant a story on forgiveness.
As I considered how to incorporate one of these topics into my experience, I realized I have learned the most, benefited from our parents' wisdom purely by their example.
My mother is simply wonderful. She models giving of herself to others more than anyone I know. Last week, for instance, Drama Queen and three of her friends attended a camp in the town where she lives. In order to save money on dorm fees, Drama Queen asked Mom if they could stay with her for the week. Mom didn't bat an eye and even fed them each evening though she worked all day. She gave four teenagers free reign of her house and remarked about how she enjoyed them. She houses people often, even some she hardly knows and makes them feel at home. She makes my kids feel "spoiled" (their word not mine) and shows me regularly how being available honors others. She never ceases to teach me how to be a mother by her quiet example. When I question how to handle ever-changing parenting dilemmas, I ask myself, "What would Mom do?" (or I just ask her!) Thank you, Mom. You are da bomb!
My dad (now deceased) taught me not to worry about money where people are concerned. He loved spending time with friends and family and unlike me, never worried about paying for someone's meal or picking up the tab for many. He loved going out to eat and even when we were children told us to order whatever we wanted. Can you believe he'd let four kids order crab legs? If my kids did that, I'd be tallying up the bill in my head having a panic attack! But I remember feeling he thought I was worth crab legs. Man, I need to keep that in mind! He was close to his extended family and taught me the blessing of spending time with relatives. And I learned from him how a sense of humor lightens any load.
My mother-in-law has shown me how to honor my husband. My father-in-law is quite the handyman and has done TONS of work both in their house and ours. I get a kick at the way my dear mother-in-law points out to others what he's done. "Didn't he do a good job? Doesn't that look nice?" She's so proud. Nearly two years ago my father-in-law suffered a terrible fall which left him in the hospital for seven weeks and required MONTHS of rehabilitation. She was the rock that kept him going, at his side every day, getting involved in the lives of his nurses and therapists. She loves her man and does a fantastic job showing it. She rarely utters any complaint or negativity about him, but talks him up wherever she goes.
My father-in-law is an absolute gem. A hug and his cock-eyed smile make me all googly inside. He knows how to make women feel valued. He is a picture of quiet strength, a guy who serves others and works hard without ever tooting his own horn. Whenever my in-laws stay with our kids for a few days, he tells me to leave a list of fix-it projects and tackles them while we're gone. Sometimes he even finds things that aren't on the list! When Kevin and I were gone in May, he laid a sub-floor in a room we're working on in the attic, even though since his accident he needs to use a cane! I have no idea how he moved around big sheets of plywood on his own, but he's not one to complain and just figures it out. He didn't even tell us he did it--guess who spilled the beans?!
We are enormously blessed by our parents. They dispense their wisdom in their actions. They make themselves freely available to us and are an active, steady, welcome presence in our lives and those of our children. Our little world is better having them in it. They have laid a great foundation for us and generations to come. I pray I continue building on the fantastic legacy they've left us.
Be sure to hop over to Chrysalis to read more Marriage Monday posts.