Life Lessons

I recently had a conversation with a man that I have occasionally worked with for years and something he said struck me in such a way I can’t stop thinking about it.

Let me explain that this man is a great guy. He is way more traditional than I am in terms of his religious beliefs and family, but he and his wife are lovely people and they have a whole slew of polite, well behaved, children.

The conversation we were having had been about his daughters recent wedding. I was asking him all sorts of questions about her big day and all the excitement that comes along with weddings. I asked him if he liked her husband and his family. He went on and on about what a great man he was and how his family was supportive and loving, all the things you want in the family your daughter is marrying in to.

Then I asked how old she was (he has several children and I have a hard time remembering who’s who) and he said she was 22. I smiled and said, “Wow. So young…” I meant wow, so young like holy hell why is she getting married at 22 since I didn’t even know who I really was or what I wanted to be when I was 22. I also meant wow, so young like how exciting for her with her whole life and all this newness in front of her. The very thought made me smile.

His response is what struck me as strange. He said, “Yes, but we have been preparing her for this for the last 10 years. We have been teaching her how to keep a home and love her husband.”

I know my mouth just hung open and for what seemed like forever I was unable to speak. In my mind I kept thinking, surely you are crazy and he didn’t just say that about his daughter? But in reality yes, yes he did.

I simply smiled and said I was so happy for her and wished her the best, and I do.

It isn’t that I think teaching your child the skills necessary to “keep a home” or “love your husband” are ridiculous, these are important skills, no doubt. What struck me is that this is what they spent 10 years trying to teach her about this world and herself.

I started thinking about my parents and the things they taught me. I don’t ever recall them focusing on keeping a home or loving anyone, other than myself. The lessons were more along the lines of get an education, find a career you love so you can take care of yourself, while they wanted me to get married and have a family, I am sure, it was not a life-lesson that was taught to me. At no point was ‘find a husband and make him happy’ one of the things they focused on.

Instead they taught me, from as early as I can remember to stand up for myself, to voice my opinion and respect others and their opinions. To fight for what I believe to be right and true. To never, ever, let someone treat me poorly. I am not a doormat and no one has the right, no matter who they are, to treat me like one.

I used these skills to stand up for myself in high school to a teacher, my parents backing me and believing in me every step of the way. I used it later on after allowing boyfriends to treat me like I was less than I am and let relationships end, knowing I deserved better. They taught me that.

They taught me that people I thought were my friends might not always be and that I need to learn who my real friends are. I have although it was difficult and heart breaking at times.

They taught me to tell the truth because lying has big consequences that could destroy so much. They taught me about relationships not only with their words but also by example. No, these weren’t always easy lessons to learn but they were honest and real, just like life.

I learned how to take care of myself before having to care for anyone else. I am strong and capable and believe in myself. I know who I am and what values I hold.

Their lessons did indeed teach me how to keep a home and love my husband. They also taught me that some of that is learned as you go. No one could teach me how to make my marriage work and I am still learning that, working on it, everyday. There is no lesson to teach you how to be a parent or what will happen to your heart the minute you are handed your child. There are no lessons, no secret rules or guides.

I am thankful my parents spent all those years teaching me about myself. I focused on who I wanted to become instead of what I might become to someone else some day.  In the end, I am me before I am a wife, mother, sister or daughter. I was taught to always be true to myself and then being true to others would come easier.

I love them for teaching me all of this. I am so much more than how I keep my home or how I love my husband.


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