My Mom on 40 Love-Filled Years

My mom is fluent in numerous languages, writes beautiful poetry and can cook or bargain-hunt her way out of any sticky situation. Of her many areas of expertise, however, maintaining a happy marriage may be her strongest. She’s proven it for forty years—officially, as of yesterday.

Rather than share my thoughts on the landmark day, I decided to go straight to the expert herself. My first semiofficial interview with my mom went like this… 🙂

AM: *dials phone*

Mom: *picks up* I have my happy grin and my happy face on.

AM: *laughs* Excellent. Feel free to answer with as much or as little as you like, or bring up topics I don’t mention.

Mom: *snickers* You know I always do. If I start blurting, say, Mo-ther… and I’ll understand.

AM: So noted. Okay, so how did you meet Dad?

Mom: I was doing a backyard barbecue for my high school German IV class. We were seniors so I was having kind of a goodbye type thing. My brother asked if he could bring a friend and if the friend could bring a date. And so Dad came with Carolyn—with a ‘yn,’ not ‘ine.’ He had these tall Red Wing cowboy boots on, and I thought, Oh, wow!

AM: Was it love at first sight?

Mom: From the reaction of Carolyn? Uh huh. She knew something was going on and she was not happy.

AM: That’s hilarious. Tell me about your first kiss.

Mom: He was helping me do dishes one day in Grandma’s kitchen. Before he left, he stooped down to kiss me and missed. I was too short! I said, “Here, this is better,” and got on my tippiest, tippy toes.

AM: Okay, I don’t need to know the rest. What was your wedding like?

Mom: Simple and sweet, the way we liked it. We told our parents to invite a few close
friends. We invited a few close friends. I made my dress and Dad wore a sports coat. I made the bridesmaid’s and flower girl’s dresses, too.

AM: And why did you choose April Fools Day?

Mom: It just worked with the calendar. That was the main reason. And who can forget April Fools? You can say things like, “Lovesy, guess what! I talked to the doctor, and I’m having twins!”

AM: *laughs* I’m sure that went over well. How does it feel, being married for 40 years?

Mom: It doesn’t seem like forty years… Dad and I kind of grew up together. I was 17 when I met him and he was 20. He gave me my first roses. He’s always done all kinds of little amazing things. When we started dating he had a little English sports car called a Harold, a red convertible. He would pick me up when I got off the bus from high school to drive me two blocks home. I’d look outside of the bus, and there was the little car! I was very excited, but I’m sure I turned lobster red.

AM: What did your brother think of all that?

Mom: Well, others of his friends asked me out, and the dates didn’t go well. One time one of his friends drove me home, put his hands up and said, “Now, for our kiss good night!” And I ran out of the car. Then every time he called, I told him I had to babysit. After that, my brother said, “Never date my boyfriends. Do not date my friends.”

AM: So you married one.

Mom: Yep! With Dad, everything felt natural. I remember telling him that I wasn’t interested in dating a bunch of people. My dream was to meet and marry one person, to have kids with that person and be able to stay home to raise and enjoy them. And that God was the center of my life. I figured he’d either run as fast as he can the other way or think it was okay. But I thought, I’m not going to pussy foot around.

AM: How did he react?

Mom: He loved everything I said and asked me to read Summer Hill. It presented a controversial way to raise your kids. Basically you raise children to be what they want to be. You don’t spank kids, yell at them or put them in a corner. You listen to them, because they are people. I thought, That sounds very nice.

AM: Ah, so we have Dad and you and that book to thank for not putting ceilings above us.

Mom: No ceilings, but roots—so you’d be grounded.

AM: You went on to have five of us. Was that the plan, or how did that happen? I mean, I know how it happened…

Mom: Do you want me to paint you a picture? *snickers*

AM: Um, that’s all right. But thank you. Did you plan to have a big family right away?

Mom: We knew we wanted several, but we didn’t have a number in mind. I wanted each of you kids to have at least two years between, so that they could be babies. I have friends who say they want to get “that little baby part” out of the way. But I love baby parts. They’re my favorite. And we didn’t have to work hard at it, let me tell you!

AM: Okay, awesome! Moving on.

Mom: *laughs* Like my friend’s son says, “Mom, you did it three times and that was it, right? To have three kids?” If she brings up anything about sex he just shuts her up.

AM: Well, I’m glad it came easily for you and hope you did it more than five times. That is all I will say. *clears throat* *sips water* How did you find time for yourself, and manage to stay sane with all these wee ones running around?

Mom: I was privileged to be able to stay home with you guys. I really admire parents who have full-time careers and kids; I think that’s really difficult… We’ve always stressed family time. When Dad was a driver during the busy season, he’d leave early in the morning and not get home until you guys were in bed. So I always made sure that he’d see you at breakfast. He’d come home frozen to the bone and ravenous. That’s when you saw your Viking. Before even changing his clothes, Dad would go up and give each of you a big cuddle and if you wanted, he’d read you a book. I really learned a lot about parenting from Dad. Dad and my aya—my nanny.

When ever I had one of you guys, I’d come home from the hospital and Dad would have the kitchen floor washed, the laundry all caught up, fresh-baked goods ready and flowers on the table. Even now he does it, when I go to see you in California.

Oh, and time-outs in the bathroom always helped.

AM: So that’s what you were doing in there!

Mom: Yep. Time for myself, even in small increments, made all the difference. And Sunday was family day. It didn’t mean you could not go out anywhere, but it was a day that we spent together—to a park, hiking or have a picnic. We always had supper together. If someone was upset or crying, I’d turn the stove off and took whoever it was to go read a book, watch “Mr. Rogers” or rock in the rocking chair. After that, we could have a happy meal.

AM: I’ve always valued that—eating as a family. What did you think when you met me? I don’t recall, for some reason…

Mom: From the day you arrived, you were just a bubble—floating free and full of it. You just had a blast. You found everything very, very enjoyable in life. You had colic, so it was a little testy at first… You found ways to stay busy and keep us entertained. Remember the time you put sock balls in your dress during nap time? We found you tricycling around the neighborhood singing—

AM: Uh, yes, Mom. We don’t need to go there. What are some of your goals or dreams for the next 40 years?

Mom: I think just to encourage each other in our own things and in our things together. I’ve always loved doing things with my hands. When you have kids, you have all these projects you start and never finish. I’ve always liked doing small projects, so that I feel accomplished. That’s kind of how Dad is with gardening. Now that he’s retired, he gets to do more gardening and cooking, spending time with the dogs… Finding joy in the little things is important. That’s one thing I love about babies—the wonder in their eyes as they see things for the first time. As we grow older, we lose that sense of wonder. I think we need to keep it captured. And Dad is a wonder.

AM: Anything else you’d like to add?

Mom: Just that I’m very spoiled.

AM: I think you spoil us. Everyone who knows you’s been spoiled, Mom.

Mom: Well, maybe the definition of spoiled is loved. *laughs*

AM: Sounds like a poem that should happen.

Mom: Maybe it should.

♥ Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad! ♥

Any thoughts or questions to share with my mom? What do you do to ensure happy, lasting relationships? What lessons have your parents taught you? We’d both love to hear from you!

Leave a comment

49 Comments

  1. Your mom sounds lovely, August. My parents have been married 39 years this year – maybe I can convince my mom to do an interview next year. 🙂

    (Also, where do you fall in the 5? I’m the middle of the five kids in my family.)

    Reply
  2. Very touching, BG. Really! 🙂

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  3. DeAnna

     /  April 2, 2012

    aw this is awesome!
    i love to read stories of young love that grew together! 😀

    Reply
  4. Dhiren Sayar

     /  April 2, 2012

    Great moment for you & your family,especially your Mom & Dad. Congratulate them on my behalf. Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply
  5. Catherine Johnson

     /  April 2, 2012

    That’s lovely, August. Congrats to your mum and dad, your mom sounds like a wonderful mother.

    Reply
  6. Absolutely lovely post. I find I’m always curious to learn about couples who have been married a long time. My parent’s got divorced after being married for 20 something years so I think I turn my focus on scenarios where people stay together. Especially since my husband and I are getting close to 2 decades of marriage!! 🙂

    Reply
  7. Send congratulations to your parents! At first I thought it was a celebration of your mom’s birthday and I was freaking out at how young she was! Hahaha!
    This was a great interview. I remember family day was Sunday when I was growing up. We evolved that into family weekends with our own kids in the Mts.
    My husband and I will be married 25 this October and it blows us away. Just like your mom said, “Everything felt natural,” and we have had a blast!
    How long have you been married August?

    Reply
  8. Awwwww LOVE it August and Mom!! Congratulations on the wonderful anniversary and sharing your thoughts and lessons learned with us. I love how you wrote about you and your spouse getting together feeling very natural and that you just put it out there what you wanted – I am not going to pussy foot around. When ever I give advice to friends about finding luv, those are the two biggees I pass along. It should be easy and just BE YOU and shoot straight from the hip. That way, you both are getting the real picture…
    Luv it….
    Wonderful interview and hope you’ll be back to share more of your wisdom. Thanks for hosting August!!!

    Reply
  9. I can see where you got your charm and grace August. Please congratulate your mom and dad for me. they sound like lovely ‘down home’ folks.

    great interview. well done.

    Reply
  10. What a cool mom! I love your relationship with her (and the rest of your family). Sounds like she and your dad were soulmates from the start. Congrats to them and happy anniversary! 40 year is amazing. Now, we really need to hear the story of you tricycling around the neighborhood singing…

    Reply
  11. Debra Eve

     /  April 2, 2012

    I took one look at that wedding picture and completely recognized the the 1970s. So nostalgic! Your mom’s just a few years older than me, August, but I didn’t find the love of my life and marry until 46. No regrets, since I wanted to be a lady explorer and lived that dream 🙂 but it’s always so wonderful to see true love through the decades! Congrats to your mom and dad.

    Reply
  12. Raani York

     /  April 2, 2012

    I LOVE this blog post. It’s wonderful!
    I have seen my parents being married for 32 years when my Dad passed away from an accident.
    I have never in my life seen two people this caring for each other – and so amusingly tender.
    I remember they met each other in the corridor of the little house I grew up in. My
    Dad just got down the stairs and my Mom was on her way up. He grabbed her around her waist and kissed her. It was such an intimate and wonderful moment that I never forgot it.

    Reply
  13. That was very sweet. I miss my mom so much. She died just a few weeks shy of her 50th anniversary to my dad. I’m sure she would have had similar answers to some of those questions.

    I always appreciated that my mom always had dinner on the table every night no matter how late it was or how bad her day had been. We always ate dinner as a family together at the dining room table, no television, no phone calls, no books. It was family time even if we were all mad at each other and no one talked. It was our together time.

    Thanks for a lovely post.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    Reply
  14. Stacy S. Jensen

     /  April 2, 2012

    Happy anniversary! I love hearing how others met and make it through the years.

    Reply
  15. August, I loved reading your interview with you and your mom. Happy 40th anniversary, August’s parents!!!!

    My favorite posts are about families, although that probably doesn’t surprise you. 🙂 I loved the wedding pics and family pictures, and of course, the picture of you with all your siblings.

    I’ a middle child too, except I’m old enough to be your mom. This year, my husband and I will have been married for 37 years. Wow, time flies fast, as I’m sure your mom has told you.

    Beautiful post. I so enjoyed it!

    Reply
  16. What a romantic story! Happily ever after!

    Reply
  17. August, (trying to comment again, mutter mutter mutter)
    Anyway – great post and interview of your mother. Happy Anniversary, August’s mom and dad! My wedding anniversary is April 1st also. 18 years and counting . . . . I love having an April 1st anniversary – no one forgets it! 🙂

    Sounds like you have an awesome family, August. Congrats to you all!

    Reply
  18. Kourtney Heintz

     /  April 2, 2012

    That was the cutest interview ever! I was sad when it ended. 😦 What an awesome family August!

    Reply
  19. What a lovely family! Congratulations, August’s Mom & Dad.

    Reply
  20. Karen McFarland

     /  April 2, 2012

    What a fabulous way to celebrate your parents anniversary August!

    Your mom is so sweet! Funny, but I relate so much to your mom. My story is very similiar to your mom and dad. And, *clears throat*, I am not very far behind them in the anniversary department. I remember my husband picking me up from school. Buying my first bouquet of roses. We married at the same age. Yikes, where do the years go?

    Wonderful interview girl! That was a pleasure to read. I enjoyed it immensely. 🙂

    Reply
  21. My parents will celebrate their 50th next June. Congrats on 40 years!

    As far as questions go, oooh! Tell us about The time August got her first period. Was she all freaked out? Or was she all excited. 😉

    Just kidding. You don’t have to answer that.

    But you can if you want to…

    Reply
  22. Congrats on the first 40 years! You have an awesome family.

    Funnily enough, we missed April fool’s day because March 31st “just worked on the calendar” and fell on a Saturday. Makes it easy to remember though.

    Best wishes for the next 40!

    Cheers

    Reply
  23. My afternoon was a little brighter because of this interview, August. Every time I remembered one of your asides or one of your mother’s sassy answers, I smiled.

    Congrats to your parents. What worthwhile lives they’ve led.

    Love your mom’s wedding gown–and envy her dressmaking skills.

    Reply
  24. What a beautiful post! Your mother sounds so lovely 🙂 I love that she knew exactly what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to ask for it. And just trusted that the right guy would love her for who she is and what she wanted. A lesson for us all. Such a beautiful family!

    Reply
  25. Oh, and Happy 40th!!

    Reply
  26. Your mom sounds fantastic. What a great woman she must be. And, clearly, you have a wonderful relationship with her. I loved learning about her and your dad’s story. Such a great couple.

    Reply
  27. Tell your Mum I think she’s simply adorable! And she did a great job raising you!
    I love the story of her first kiss, that was so cute- your Dad missed! Rofl!

    Ps. my parents celebrated their 41 years this year. 🙂

    Reply
  28. What a charming interview. Happy Anniversary to your folks. So sweet of you to have her on. I adored it when she discribed how she went up on her tippy toes for their first kiss. 🙂 I have tried to talk my mom into an interview about some of her art, but I think she’s shy. 😀

    Reply
  29. Heidi Mastrogiovanni

     /  April 3, 2012

    Absolutely beautiful and joyous and inspiring! Having had the great privilege and joy of meeting your wonderful parents, I am thrilled to read about their 40 wonderful years together. May they have many more.

    Reply
  30. Aloha August,

    That must have been a *fun* interview 🙂 Very well written and I enjoyed every moment of the post (plus I re-found Mike Sirota via your comments, so that was like a free bonus 🙂

    Thanks for your comments on my blog, and I’ll be back here… you have a new follower 🙂

    Reply
  31. beautiful post; i love hearing about successful marriages, because no doubt they are work. It seems after every trial, we just grow stronger. thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  32. I really enjoyed reading your interview with your mother! She sounds like such a loving mother and wife. You are one lucky daughter. My favorite cousin was married this past Sunday, on April Fools Day, just like your mom! I hope they spend the next 40 years just as happy together as your parents. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  33. Loved this post! How wonderful. Congrats to your parents. I hope to celebrate 40 years some day; we’re almost halfway there. 🙂

    Reply
  34. A very sweet and touching interview, August. Truly you have been bless with special parents.

    Reply
  35. Your mom sounds like an absolute sweetheart!

    Reply
  36. Very good. I’m guessing your dad drove a Triumph Herald.

    Reply
  37. I’m late to EVERY party this week! I love your mom – she sounds so happy and grounded (kind of like someone else I know?!?). And I think it’s hilarious that your brother grew up with FOUR sisters. He probably never ran out of gals to date. 🙂

    Reply
  38. August, here’s a lesson my mom taught me that still resonates over 20 years later:

    At the ripe, wise age of 19, I was walking into a shopping mall w/my mom. Seeing as how I was at the tail end of my Idiot Teenager phase, I opened the door and walked into the mall. That’s when I heard her: “Hey!!!!! What do you think you’re doing?!?!?!?!” Let me tell you something, mister, you always hold the door for a woman! Even the ones you don’t know. I didn’t raise you to be a Neanderthal!”

    While that’s not the exact quote, the message was received loud and (still) very clear. And to this day, whether it’s my wife getting into our car or a woman entering the gym before me, I hold the door. The looks I get from women I don’t know are almost always pleasant smiles that translate into “nice to know that chivalry isn’t dead” to which I respond with “my mother raised me well.”

    Thank you, mom, for kicking my ass when my idiot self needed it.

    Reply
  1. A destination wedding invitation #weddings #marriage #puntacana – Natalie Hartford
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