“Goodnight Lina, I love you,” I said, kissing her on the cheek.
“Goodnight, mommy. I love you, beautiful wife,” she replied.
My first reaction was to laugh, simply because my daughter calling me her wife is a funny concept. After thinking about it though, my response was to cry. Don’t worry, it wasn’t an ugly Kim Kardashian cry, it was just a tear or two.
I’m always aware that I have to be careful of what I say in front of our children; not only will they repeat it, but they’re also learning from it. They’re learning how to react if something inconveniences them, like when our DirecTv remote seems to need new batteries every 13 minutes. As badly as I may want to damn it to the pits of hell, I try to take a deep breath and place it calmly on the coffee table. Is that how I react every time? Please. (Insert eye-roll emoji here). But I do try. Aaron is WAY better at controlling his reactions than I am. Kids are far more perceptive than we give them credit for; they feel what we feel when we say something is good or bad and they burn it into their little memory. And most of all, they’re learning how to treat others and how to expect to be treated.
In our household, Lina repeats just about everything her daddy says. Whether it’s a curse word (like when she screams “SH*T” in the grocery store), or life lessons such as, “be patient”. He’s her hero and favorite “octopus” aka officer. Luckily, she doesn’t repeat mommy that much, aside from the occasional, “No, mommy. Don’t talk back.”
Out of the two of us, I am by far the more volatile spouse. I often lack a filter and realize after I’ve already spoken that some things are probably better left unsaid (which is why we’re lucky that Lina doesn’t always repeat me). Sometimes when Aaron asks me a question, I’ll answer, “nice or honest?” and he knows I’m either about to give a polite lie or drop a painful truth bomb. Even so, after 7 years of waking up beside the same, sometimes insensitive, woman–except for the nights that our kids take over our bed…ok I’m done lying, that’s every night–he still says “I love you, beautiful wife”. Enough times for a toddler to catch on to the entire phrase. Our girls will look at their father as a standard against which they will judge all men, and in case you haven’t caught on yet, the bar is set high, future boyfriends.
There are a lot of ways we wish we could be better for our kids, but they will always know how much their parents love each other. We may give them ice cream at ten o’clock at night, call them ‘dude’, watch The Walking Dead when they’re not distracted enough and throw out the occasional curse word in front of them, but we also read to them everyday, teach them about God’s love, chase them around the playground and love them and each other fiercely.
Sometimes when I feel like we could be doing so much better as parents, Lina says, “I love you, beautiful wife” and I’m reminded that we could be doing a heck of a lot worse.
And then other times she says, “JUST GIVE ME A DAMN MINUTE, MOMMY” and I’m also reminded that we can always be better…