Nine months ago, Dad walked me down the aisle in a horse pasture surrounded by giant green trees, bugs crawling up my wedding gown. Nevertheless, it was a perfect day. You sat up front in your teal dress and watched me walk toward Mack, smiling from ear to ear. And I bet you had no idea.
I bet you had no idea how clueless I was about becoming a wife. I had no idea how selfish I really was and no idea how much my life would change by declaring “I do.”
But as I walked down the aisle, clueless, I wasn’t worried. Not one bit. Because all my life I’ve watched you.
[Please have Dad grab you some tissues now.]
I’ve watched you love Dad for 27 years, through fighting matches and snuggle-fests. Through acts of selfless kindness and perseverance. You didn’t actually sit down with an excel spreadsheet and explain the formula for loving a husband, you showed me.
You showed me how to be PATIENT.
When Dad used to spend 10 years cleaning the kitchen before sitting down to eat dinner, you simply reminded me to wait. When Dad spent (and still spends) hours in the woods photographing birds on your hikes, you didn't lose your mind, because you understood that you and Dad move at different paces. You and Dad think and react differently. But you showed me that’s OK. You balanced each other out. While patience wasn’t always easy, it was—and still is—a necessary part of growing together. God love him—Dad is a very stubborn man, and your patience with him shows me that it is possible to be patient with anybody.
You showed me how to be SUBMISSIVE.
From buying a new car, to camping in the mountains, to choosing my college—you and Dad discussed life decisions together, but you always respected Dad enough to give him the final say. He didn’t rule with an iron fist because he didn’t have to. You gracefully and lovingly respected his decisions and let him lead. You didn’t stubbornly oppose him just because you could; you followed Jesus’ command for wives to submit to their husbands. In return, Dad was able to love you and honor you like Jesus commanded.
You showed me how to be SUPPORTIVE.
After showing me how to submit, you showed me how to take it a step further and support Dad’s decisions. You showed me how to raise him up as a leader of our home. Even when you disagreed, I watched you talk it out. You showed me how to hear his side, when to compromise and how to let go of disagreements. No matter what, you always had his back. Your support made him stronger and more confident in his decision-making.
You showed me how and when to SPEAK UP and when TO LET IT GO.
It’s not a battle; marriage is about teamwork and compromise. About joining together and becoming a united front. You showed me when it’s acceptable to speak up—and when to let go of the little, nit-picky things. Nobody likes a nit-picky wife, you know? Most importantly, when you fanned the flames of an argument or said something you shouldn’t have, you showed me how to seek forgiveness. I can probably count the number of times you were wrong on one finger (wink, wink), but you always asked for forgiveness when you were wrong. That's hard to do, but you showed me how important forgiveness is in your marriage.
You showed me how to SEE HIS SIDE.
Even when he didn’t make a lick of sense, you showed me how to at least try to understand how he feels. You listened to him. You anticipated his thoughts and actions. You considered his feelings when making decisions. You put him first, you perfect, selfless woman! And in return, yes, he watched (and still watches) Hallmark movies with you.
You showed me how to be SILLY.
Groovin’ to the Beach Boys. Singing with Aretha. Acting zany and goofy 24/7—you didn’t hide behind your awkwardness or try to change to the world’s standards. And Dad loved you because you were silly. Because you were you. You encouraged me to always be myself—to embrace my weirdness. Dad thought you were beautiful, no matter what. It’s why he loves you and has always loved you. Now it’s why my husband loves me.
You showed me how to COOK.
From baking cookies, to grilling salmon, to slicing mangos—you always encouraged me to cook, even when I resisted. You always knew the key to a man’s heart is through his tummy. Plus, you knew how special it feels to be able to feed your husband a delicious, hearty meal. I’m sorry I resisted learning for so long. Now I know.
You showed me how to SHARE MY HEART.
You never hid your emotions from Dad. You wore your heart on your sleeve and always told him how you felt. You cried. You laughed. You shouted (Richard Patrick!). You thanked. Dad never had to play a guessing game with your mood. I also learned from watching you that when you find the right man, he will hold you in his arms as you cry your eyes out and love you through all of your emotions—no matter how strange or irrational. I also learned, crying is power. But YOU never abused it. I’m still working on that one...
You showed me how to CREATE A HAPPY HOME.
It’s not about the expensive sofas or ginormous TVs. It’s not about the granite countertops or hardwood floors. A happy home is a comfortable, loving, safe environment. And you created one. You gave Dad man-cave time, so he could re-charge his batteries. You never scolded him for not making enough money so that you could have nicer things. You always greeted Dad with a smile and a kiss, relaxed with him, fed him nom-noms and let him go crazy landscaping the back yard to his content. Sure, throughout the years, doors were slammed and tears shed, but you never let issues go unresolved.
You showed me how to ENCOURAGE.
You set the tone of the household—and when you encouraged Dad, he seemed to work harder. I think he felt better. I think, because of you, he was proud of his accomplishments. You lifted him up and affirmed him. You never belittled, mocked or ignored him. Because of your ridiculous kind heart and words of praise, Dad’s love tank was consistently full.
You showed me how to LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY.
No matter what happened in your marriage, I watched you and Dad weather the storms together. In your marriage, you didn’t hold grudges. You didn’t have regrets. You resolved conflicts and never went to bed angry. Surely there may have been seasons where you didn’t like him very much, but you’ve remained faithful. You’ve never talked badly about him. You have always loved him with all your heart. He has been, is and always will be your Chewy.
Thank you, Mom, for showing me how to be a wonderful wife!
I love you!