While I'm here in the states visiting, I'm staying at our home where my son, his wife, and their three children now live (pictured above) while my husband and I live overseas in Munich. They have taken over the homestead and have diligently looked after the yard, the gardens, the plumbing, the electrical, and whatever else needed looking after. It's a wonderful feeling to to live abroad and come home to visit, rather than rent a hotel room or rely on relatives or friends for accommodations. Although it is our home, it is now their home to enjoy and raise their three little ones. While we have been living in Germany, they have filled the home with their furniture and possessions. It is a warm, inviting, and comfortable place to live. They have even re-hired my housekeeper to spruce up the place while we've been gone so that when I entered the home a few weeks ago, it was spotless. What a beautiful homecoming to know your home is so well looked after. What a peace of mind we will have when we return to Bavaria in a few weeks.
We've enjoyed these past few weeks together whilst I've been re-connecting with friends and relatives. For me, it feels like our time in Germany was a big dream; except when I receive phone calls, texts, and emails from my husband who's holding down the fort at our second home across the Atlantic.
Image by Juergen Kurlvink via Flickr
I've been invited to many of my sons' family's outings and today was no exception.
Today, we all had plans to go to the zoo, but Mother Nature had her own plans..... rain. They had invited friends, who also had three small children, to come along. Since it was raining, they quickly altered their plans and decided to entertain their friends here at the house. All six children played while the five adults (counting me) enjoyed their time together.
Watching the two young families interact with their little ones took me back to the time my children were young and dependent on their parents. Although I only have two children-- spaced five years apart-- the dynamics of a family with young children remains the same--hectic. Listening to the fathers relate their weeks' agenda filled with swim lessons, trips to the park, getting the children ready for school and so on, it was all too evident that both families were caught up in the seemingly never ending job of parenting. The men even remarked to one another how it "used to be" between the two couples, pre-children, when they were able to go out together to a nice restaurant and have quiet conversations between the four of them. Now, they declared, it's all about the kids. Much of their day is spent feeding, clothing, bathing, and disciplining their children and they both sighed about the fact that they couldn't remember the last time they had time alone with their spouses.
I remained quiet, just taking it all in, as the two young fathers were commiserating. I thought of how typical this feeling is with young families and how most young parents get caught up in devoting all of their time to their children, their children's activities, and their children's needs. Fine for me to sit back and say, I've been there, done that, but they are in the thick of it and in their words I empathized with them about the stress that comes with parenting.
I also know a thing or two about stress and the toll it takes year after year, and I must admit to wanting to warn them about it. Would it do any good for me to tell them? Like them, at their age, I couldn't see the minefields ahead. Could I help them foresee the pitfalls that lie in wait?
Best to listen and not react, I told myself. Besides, my two grown sons still think I am overly worried about everything. So much so that they have even stopped opening my emails. Why aren't they concerned as much as I am about drinking iced tea with lemon from restaurants, storing the toothbrushes in a cabinet away from the flushing toilet, and leaving their car, with the garage door opener on the visor, parked in their driveway? Even my grandson has gotten into the act. "Mimi," he wrote on Facebook last week, "I think you worry way too much about such things." He said this after posting his phone number on Facebook for me. Why doesn't he think predators will find his family through his phone number? I do.
I wondered how I ever got to this place. The place where I bite my tongue and "not worry." A place where I recognize that my children's problems are theirs to resolve. I guess it's been happening all along, very gradually. I asked myself just when it was that I realized that they are all going to be ok. And then it hit me!
It started with my two amazing daughters-in-law!
How to describe them? They are two of the most insightful, bright and accomplished young women I happen to know. Both, very strong in their own convictions and equally strong in their love for my sons. My two daughters-in-law are both amazingly kind and generous to all whom they know. I see this in their actions, as well as their words. I watch them guide their young children and hold their husbands' hands in complete partnership. I observe them giving so much of themselves, supporting their husbands unconditionally, and displaying unending loyalty to them.
It has always been my notion that a good marriage happens when BOTH spouses look after one another. To my great appreciation, I have witnessed this in my sons' marriages. I am in awe that these two couples rarely think of themselves or their own wants or needs--it is all about what they can do to make their wives/husbands happy. Each of them are supporting one another and are helpmates to one another while raising their children. If they continue to bless one another in this way, no amount of outside pressure will harm them. It is for this reason that I have gradually come to rest and no longer worry about the stresses that lay ahead in their marriages. They are all on firm ground.
I cannot tell you how much I love both of these women. Because of them, my sons have grown into confident and loving husbands. Because of them, they are responsible and diligent fathers. I have much respect for each of the women in my sons' lives. They are beautiful both physically and spiritually. They are very intelligent and articulate. They are honest and truthful women. And, like their husbands, they are totally self-sacrificing. They are mature women who demonstrate their honor to serve God and their husbands who are doing God's work, daily. I know that it is because of them that my boys are the men they have become.
I have told my sons, as recently as last week when we had breakfast together, that they are truly blessed with wives I am both proud and honored to call my daughters-in-law. I reminded them to give thanks for their wives, but I already knew how much they value their wives because they both tell me, often, how very fortunate they are.
Now, I ask you, could any mother want anything more for their child? I watch as my sons look to their wives with admiration as she comes into a room. It is exhilarating! The girls and I give each other a wink. We know how much we are all loved by the men in our family and I can tell you that the feeling is mutual. Thank you girls. I love you both very much!