I frequently hear I am the best mom for my kids. Most days I choose to believe this wisdom. I even give other moms the same message. But when I begin to recount the reasons why I’m a good mom to my girls, I usually come up with a laundry list of how I serve them. How I meet THEIR needs. But Darling, here is the most honest truth about my family, one of the best ways I love my kids is by loving their dad. That’s right the man who changes the words when reading books aloud just to hear his daughters yell, “Noooo, that’s not how it goes”, and does school drop-offs when his schedule allows, and is currently building them a second basketball hoop (because the first blew over in the wind and broke last week), that man is happier and more present with his kids, when our relationship is going well. It’s not complicated or revolutionary. Our marriage matters. To him. To me. Therefore, to our kids.
And please hear me here: if you are parenting alone (as my mom did) or your marriage is currently in a hard place (as mine has been) I am not saying you love your kids less. Some of my bravest, strongest friends are women who continue to support their exs as dads in front of their kids. They put their own hurts aside so their sons and daughters don’t become pawns used in the middle of a messy break-up. Their kids are benefitting now and will for years to come. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. We all have our own family journeys. What I’m talking about is MY family of six.
And in MY family we have what outsiders might call a regular marriage with an average kind of life. When I say a regular kind of marriage, I mean one that Hollywood doesn’t want any part in because much of the time it’s occupied with grocery store runs and preschool auctions and lawn mowing. Where peanut butter and jelly, My Little Pony and swim lessons are how we roll. And our anniversaries are now in the double digits and yes, I’ve known my husband Derek longer than I have not. We’ve birthed four babies, remodeled three houses and moved half way across the country (twice). In lots of ways our life is not what we dreamed of and exactly what we hoped for. It is simply a mix of ordinary activities and extraordinary love.
We’re in the steady years right now. Those where weekends can be eaten up by sports schedules and our enthusiasm over a road trip is hindered by the reality of potty training. Romance doesn’t just flourish on its own. And so the more I can do to let this man, this favorite person of mine on the planet, know that he is not forgotten in the sea of other people who are screaming (and we all know I mean that literally) for my attention, the better he is. And I am. And our children are.
Because here’s the ripple effect: a happier man means a more confident man means a more patient and nurturing dad. And it goes both ways, the more connected I feel to him, the more I simply enjoy life making me a better mom! He is my other side, my partner in all things, I benefit from loving him well. And perhaps the biggest value our girls receive when watching me choose to love him generously, (aside from being reminded that they are indeed NOT the center of our combined universe), is a healthy, regular marriage playing out. One where bills need to be paid, dinner dishes need to be done and the oh so sexy trash needs to be taken out. That in the midst of the daily life, the things that can take over our every second, we can stop and have a drink on the front porch before the night gets away from us. Though the sparks may not be seen by those looking in from the outside, this gift of a man is one I treasure. For me and for our children. My choice to love him as best I can is also a gift to my girls.
As a mom to four girls, ages 11, 8, 4 and 2, Alexandra Kuykendall is offered daily doses of the ludicrous and sublime. She is the author of this year’s MOPS International theme book, The Artist’s Daughter, A Memoir and is the Mom and Leader Content Editor for the organization. This means she reads a lot and writes when she can. But don’t be fooled by long and fancy titles, most of Alex’s days are spent washing dishes, driving to and from different schools and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. You can connect with her at AlexandraKuykendall.com.
How do you love your husband so he can be a better dad?