A Few Good Men

I once read a quote that said something like, “be the kind of man you would want your daughter to date.”  It’s pretty powerful isn’t it?  For some men, the way they have treated their girlfriends or their wives, well, they would never want that for their daughters, would they?  It’s a good guide, for keeping one’s behavior in check, if you would not want a man to do this to your daughter, then don’t do it to your partner…that thing called karma, that’s real.  I have a new son-in-law, since about 4 o’clock last Sunday, and while he does not have a daughter, he has shown me, time and time again, that he is the kind of man he would want his daughter to date if he had one.   He does however have two sons, and by the way he treats my daughter, now his wife, he is showing these growing boys how a good woman should be treated, and how to become the kind of man anyone could wish for their daughter, all I could have ever dreamed for mine…

It’s not just the ten days at The Four Seasons in Maui seven months after their first blind date, a brilliant matching set up by my sister and brother-in-law I might add, nor is it the enormous addition he built on their home, practically as big as my whole house I might add, of a master bedroom and spa like bath-suite and family room, and it’s not that he took them to Disney World last year, and it’s not just the stunningly shiny and perfectly flawless diamond he surprised her with in front of the  fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas last October, surprised all of us I might add, as he’d only told his sons that he was going to propose, and it’s not the new Yukon he bought them to have a “family” vehicle that all six of them could comfortably ride in, it’s not the giant pool and park like setting he created in their backyard, and it’s not the dream wedding they just created together, and it’s not the two weeks in Bora Bora that they will start enjoying as their honeymoon begins next week…no, it’s not one of these things, nor any of these things I might add, that have “value” or cost money, in fact, it’s none of the above…   No, it’s the way he looked at her, that moment he first saw her last Sunday afternoon…my lovely daughter in her exquisite ivory lace wedding gown, with her veil shimmering in the afternoon sun, and the light breeze gently swaying it across her bare shoulders…he looked at her in a way that any parent would want for their daughter…and it melted me.  It made me feel like the luckiest woman on this earth, to know, to feel it in my bones, that this man loves my daughter this way…It made me love him very much more than I already did, and not for any of the things he has bought her, or for how much better, easier, and more fun her life has grown since he’s been part of it…all of that makes her life good; I loved him more for the way he looked at her, with a fondness that perhaps can’t be defined, and an appreciation, an honor even, to share his life with her…all of that which makes her life even more beautiful than it already was…

I am the daughter of a great man, and I am the daughter of a great romance.  My father still looks at my mother like he thinks he’s the luckiest man in the world.  That my daughter now has a man in her life like this, so much like my father in a number of ways, fills my heart to overflowing.  When I was a little girl I often looked upon my parents in such awe and wonder…I would see the way my father looked at my mother, or laugh when he said, as he still does, “she’s the best wife I ever had” and I would think, “that’s the relationship to wish for.”   To wish for a partner that good & deeply loving, to be on your side in life and love, in work and home, is a big wish…and now to think that my granddaughters will have those feelings too, as they continue to evolve and grow, and watch their mother in this new role as new wife, well it makes me cry the happiest of tears…

Sure, there will be some evenings that my son-in-law will wish that my daughter was cooking their dinner instead of organizing her shoe closet or grading papers, or some afternoons that my daughter would rather him be home vacuuming with her than out racing his dirt bike with his friends, and certainly sometime one or the other of them will be annoyed that the other did not go food shopping…real, real, life happens…I’m not so naive to think they will be so fond of each other all the time, for all of their days.  Surely that expression “well, the honeymoon is over” must have come from somebody who became unexpectedly well aware that the wedding ‘high’ eventually ends, and real, real, life restarts …that my granddaughters will watch him some night, at the dinner table perhaps, looking at their mother the way my father looks still at my mother…and maybe he’ll tease her, or joke around and laugh with her, or poke her in the ribs or kiss her on the forehead and they’ll laugh together with some private grin, and those little girls will see that they can want this for themselves someday…real love based in friendship, filled with respect and admiration and appreciation…this man, this new son-in-law of mine, has brought into my life two boys and a big boy dog, but more than anything, he has brought into my life something I only dreamed of for my daughter and her daughters, and my thanks and my gratitude to him, for that,  is too big for words…

 

 

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The Wonder Years

I often call her The Little Blonde Wonder, and she is. We walk to the bus stop together every day after her mother has left for work and before I do, and sometimes we chat, and sometimes we look for bugs, (her nickname since she’s been quite small has been “Bug”) sometimes we talk about our dreams or the book we read at bedtime the night before, and sometimes we just walk in silence, knowing that we simply are together.  Although she reaches up to kiss me as soon as the bus comes around the corner, she still turns and smiles at me the moment before she steps on, and I love that she takes those extra two seconds to wave and to catch my eye.

When told that the violin was one of the hardest instruments to learn, she wondered “why” and later explained that she found it hard to believe, since she learned all the notes on her first lesson, and by her second lesson could play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.  She does most of her math homework in her head and seems annoyed when she is told that she has to “show the work.”  She can look at just about anything and draw it, and has an imagination that is so full of creativity that I often wonder how I ever lived without her in my life.  She is witty in a way that is way beyond her years, and often beyond the comprehension of most kids her age.  She says hilarious things all the time and uses sarcasm with such skill and timing that you’d think she is surely something of an ‘old soul.’  There is something about her heart that is pure gold,  much like her ringlets, which are slowly growing out of her growing head, as the baby blonde gives way to darker “big-girl” hair.   She is the baby of my baby and today she is 9.

I was staying in North Carolina the week she was born, helping my daughter with her toddler and preparing for the birth of the new baby.  I loved that I was self-employed and had the freedom to spend a month to help with this baby as I did with the first, two years before.  I stayed overnight in the hospital room the night she was born, her father went home to be with her sister, and I didn’t want my daughter to be alone, or have to get up and tend to a day old baby, and I fell asleep in the chair with her in my arms, and woke up startled, positively terrified that I could have dropped her.  You forget, quickly, how tiny new babies are, even the big ones!  She sucked her thumb with her pointer finger resting on her nose, just like her mother did, and she was, just like her sister, a very easy baby.  When she was about a week old, my daughter and I were remarking about how her skin always looked so tan.  The pediatrician told us to hold a piece of computer paper up to her face, and we did, and she was not tan at all but yellow, gold actually, and we wondered how we did not know anything about jaundice!  We were relieved when we were instructed to follow specific directions and she would not have to be hospitalized, and follow them we did, and she whitened up!

I struggled at first, on the eve of her birth, wondering if I would have enough love inside of me to love two children and if would I understand how to do it…having only had my daughter, and not being overly fond of children in general, I was sort of scared…did I love her big sister so much that I would not have enough to love her too???…It might sound silly to read, and seems silly to me these nine years later, but the fear was real those days in October, awaiting her arrival on this earth.  The first morning after her first night home from the hospital, I was on the sofa, giving her her early morning feeding, and her sister sleepily walked out into the living room, sat beside me on my right side, and as I had the infant in my left arm and the toddler at my right hip, I became overwhelmed with the understanding that ‘yes!’  I had enough love inside of me to go around!!!  It felt so big, for these humans so small…

She sends me random text messages that say things like, “I just can’t stop reading tonight” or “Nana I am just loving this book” and usually sends me a photo of the cover.  I often wonder if she simply knows that I am fond of smart kids who read, or if she really is fully forming a great love of books and reading like her sister and I have, and just wants to share her joy.  She loves words and from the time she could reach the shelf, her favorite book in my house has been my red dictionary from college.  Even before she could read, she would get it from the shelf and sit with it on the sofa and then open it, pointing, and asking me what words were.  I never tire of her company, even when I am really tired.  Much like her sister, she really is one of my favorite humans and I choose time with her, with them really, over time with most other people.  Truth be told, when their mother is on her honeymoon next week, for 14 days, and I am on full momma/nana duty for those 14 days, it’s certainly possible I will become agitated or irritable or short-tempered, but I don’t expect to.  I really do find each of them to be joyful company.

This little blonde wonder walks to my house every morning after her mother leaves for work.  Sometimes I sit up here in my office in the loft and she sits at the desk beside me and plays Nancy Drew, or Insurance Agent, or some other activity she’s made up, creative imaginary things where she uses that brilliant little brain of hers playing make-believe.  I asked her a few weeks ago what she would like to do for her birthday, and she said, “well, I’d like to go to a museum.”  You know how you can like some people but not really want to be around them?  Well she is not one of those.  I find her charming and engaging and fun to be with.  I call her The Little Blonde Wonder, and she mostly makes me wonder how I got to be so lucky…