I have been thinking about this story for awhile, trying to remember when I heard it for the first time. Romantically I think maybe it was before I got married and I am sure it was repeated then but really it was much sooner than that. It is one of those family stories that I know was told throughout my life and it became part of my consciousness.
This is advice my mom passed to me but it was advice a priest gave them before their own marriage.
“Put yourselves first.”
“Put yourselves first. You will have jobs, and kids, and money problems. You will have all kinds of things happen that you can’t predict or even imagine but if you two have a strong foundation then your family will be strong and you all will be OK.”
My parents had a beautiful relationship. Just like everyone, it wasn’t perfect but they truly loved each other. I think they took that priest’s words to heart and did make themselves our foundation. Our family was built on them and even when there were struggles, and there were many, they were a team and we managed.
My Dad has been dead for 21 years and I truly believe in many ways my mother misses him about the same today as the day he passed. They were made for each other.
Alex and I didn’t always act on this advice during all the years of our marriage but we really try to now.
When we wrote out our commitment to each other at the start of this Dd journey that was the first thing we wrote, that we were rededicating ourselves to put ourselves first before all else. Before jobs, schedules, other family members, and even our kids. That does not at all mean that we are neglecting any of those things and that they don’t sometimes take precedence in time and effort but what we are committed to is making sure that in the midst of what ever distractions we are faced with that we remain in touch and connected. That we touch base with the other to make sure we are OK and that we acknowledge each other.
It is a real shift in how we interact and takes time and effort. Anything worth doing takes effort though and the benefits for our whole family are so worth it.
Kids come into our lives and take so much of our energy that it often seems that we have no time to spare for our spouses. Before I ever had children I was drawn to the quote that says that we should give our children two things. One is roots and the other is wings.
My parents gave me that gift. I hope when my kids are my age they feel the same.
In order for the roots to be strong though we have to be strong and so we have returned to the advice of my mother and the priest who she got it from. We are stronger now than we ever have been. We see each other. We pay attention. We make sure our foundation is strong because that is the greatest gift we can give our kids.