If there is one thing I have hammered into Ava's mind and soul, it is to pick a good husband when the time comes. Every few months I make her repeat the number one quality she should look for in a man. She rolls her eyes a little and recites, "He has to be kind, and hopefully make me laugh, and be my best friend. Oh, and I have to listen to what you and Daddy think about who I fall in love with."
Kindness is the key. My parents had a less-than-stellar marriage, and I was terrified of making a bad marriage choice on a subconscious level. I polled everyone, friends and family, about Jason when we first met. I was impressed by him, but was I falling prey to the blurry vision of all people in love and being snowed under by my feelings? Could others see that he was a stand-up guy who would be loyal and kind and true to his word in the tough times?
Thankfully, everyone in my life gave Jason a unanimous thumbs-up when it came time to commit my life to him. They could see what I long suspected - he was the real thing, and when someone that good comes along and actually falls in love with you, there is a gratitude that flows between you and back out to the world, and taking the plunge into marriage becomes the only half-way reasonable course of action.
It's been twelve years now, and I continue to see sides of Jason which inspire and move me. This week has been very stressful for him at work, with a lot of important customer meetings and presentations and travel, and he's trying to campaign for a town councilor position at the same time, and yet he makes our family his highest priority. He came home a little early one night this week, ate dinner with us, played Wii with the kids, supervised bath time, headed off to a town meeting, and when he returned at 9 pm, tired and fighting a cold, he heard Ava talking to herself in her room, still awake, and went in to cuddle and whisper with her for a few minutes.
I stopped what I was doing and heard them talking and laughing about her day. He listened while she recited the plot of her latest Pony Pal book from the library, and told stories from recess at school, and how excited she is for Santa to bring her an American Girl doll this Christmas. He kissed her and hugged her and left absolutely no doubt in her mind that she is loved and treasured above all else.
Once again, I thanked God for bringing Jason to me all of those years ago, and giving me the courage to step into marriage with the right person, someone who had the ability to fix parts of me that had been broken in my childhood. I watch the close relationship between Ava and Jason, and I vicariously live through it, offering bits of healing to my own soul, and applying band-aids where there were once gaping wounds. We will do other sorts of unintentional damage to our beloved children, but in this case, Jason and Ava are miles ahead of where I was with my dad as a child, and simply saying, "Thank you" doesn't seem to be enough to express how deep my gratitude runs.