Saturday, August 22, 2009

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times - Chapter 11

#11 - "Always put your husband above your children. Children grow up and leave, but you’ve got to live with your husband forever."
As I sit here staring at the blinking cursor, wondering what to say about this lesson my mom taught me a million times, I push myself to not think. My head knows what it wants to reveal, but the cautious side of me wants to pretty it up. I should probably talk about mom's lesson, "Don't tell too much about yourself. It makes you vulnerable." But unwisely, I'll save that one for later, and instead, just stick it out there.

Since I've been through a number of husbands (I'll bet you're wondering how many), I obviously haven't taken this lesson to heart. In fact, my current, and hopefully last husband will tell you that when we were contemplating marriage (I still remember that queasy feeling 20 years later), I told him outright, "My kids come first. You will never be first, and if you can't handle that, then check out now." To his credit, he's always honored that decree, and it is just one of the many reasons I love him. Click on Read More Below...

So what about mom's lesson about putting the husband first. OK, deep breath here. When I look at the whole of my life, and am honest with myself, I have to admit that for the 55 years I had my mother, I probably spent about 40 of them regarding her more as a convenience and an annoyance than anything else. Don't get me wrong, I loved her, but at some point (puberty, no doubt) I began resenting her efforts to prevent me from making huge mistakes. Of course at the time I didn't know that's what she was doing, I just thought she was being a mother, but filtered through my surging hormones and disillusionment, it was just infuriating.

Of course once I was on my own, I randomly ignored her phone calls and visited her when my conscience and sense of daughter-hood prevailed, or when I needed a babysitter. I feel like I'm walking on the blade of a knife saying these things because it feels like a dishonor to my mom, and I'm terrified that my kids will think, "Oh OK, it's OK to abuse my relationship with mom." Yikes!!!

The worst part is that now that mom is gone, I have such horrible regrets that I didn't hug her and talk to her more often and tell her more often how much I loved her and what a wonderful mother she was. That's a regret that I will live with the rest of my life, and I can push it to the back of my heart, but it never goes away.

Wheeewwww! That was intense!

Back to the putting your husband before your kids. I think the connection is that your kids are going on to a life of their own, a life that you can only peripherally be a part of, but your husband will be at the center of your life as long as you are with him. It is the day-in-day life-happenings that are a substantial measure of the quality of your life, and if you are married, your husband is a pretty big piece of that. Actually, if you measure the day, it is work that eats your life - eeeegadds - that's a whole other thing and I'm not going there.

If it's not the quantity of your interaction with your hubby that makes your day, it is certainly the gravitas of your interaction that does. Example: This morning's conversation with my husband went like this:
Me: "Good morning."
Him: "Good morning."
Big hug.
Me: "I had a bad dream last night."
Him: "Oh no! What about."
Me: "I dreamed that you were finding comfort in the arms of another woman."
Him: "Ha. Ha. Why would you dream that?"
Me: "You act like you hate me sometimes."
Him: "You act like you hate me sometimes too!"
Me: "I don't hate you. I love you."
Him: "I love you too."

I'm sure you are tiring of my ramblings at this point, and so am I. So I think I'll just say that mom was right. Put your husband first. Children grow up and leave, but you've got to live with your husband forever.



  1. Very sweet and a not a bit scary. Thank you for this reminder. I see many women focus everything on kiddos while the partnership is ignored. I'm a better mother when I have the sweeetness of my partnership by my side.

  2. I adored your mom. She ran interference for me with my own.

  3. "That's a regret I will live with the rest of my life. I can push it to the back of my heart but it never goes away." That is beautiful writing. Everyone who has lost a parent understands. Charlena

  4. Interesting hearing your thoughts, knowing you and knowing your mom both. Very honest evaluation, near as I can tell, and I think it's upshot is true, too. I've come to realize that you can parent as much as is humanly possible and your kids may well still exercise the right to make the same fabulous mistakes that you warned them against. That's the nature of the beast.
    Your spouse though...they're someone you'll sleep with (if you're lucky) for the rest of your life. Making sure you do right by them is a wise thing and I think doing so has its own hard-to-quantify positive results.

  5. Yep - not a lesson I really wanted to beleive, but time has proven it true - as it has most of mom's 100 things!

  6. Where is this guilt coming from--you were a wonderful daughter to Willie and a blessing to her as a later in life baby--if you were impatient with her you kept it to your self--I never saw you be anything but a loving daughter and she knew that. Don't be so hard on yourself--I think that we all have regrets over things that we shoulda or coulda done different. By the way I love the pic of your Mom, she was so pretty.

  7. the comment was from me--got in a hurry and forgot to sign--Linda Sue

  8. Oh thanks dear friend. I just think I always have regrets when I am less kind than I should be with anyone. I was probably more kind and loving to my mom than I give myself credit for. I just have the guilt and regret for all the anger and resentment that I felt but didn't necessarily express. Just as bad.

  9. Forgot to sign my post too. Your mother was my grandmother, or Mommy, as I called her. She ran interference for me with my own mom (her daughter). Jane (I-reene to some of y'all)