Linda and her husband, Richard, have raised nine exceptional and strong-willed children (five sons, four daughters, no twins, all genetically theirs…just to get all the questions out of the way). Linda is an accomplished author and co-founder of Joy Schools. You can learn more about Linda at ValuesParenting.

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Number One

There are so many fabulous “Mamas” in Utah! I have seen their resilience, their creativity, their undying devotion to the quest of helping their children become the very best they can be. I know their devotion to their cause and know that nothing deters them from thinking of inspiring ways to help struggling children and being Mother Bears when it comes to injustice and serving those who need it most.

BUT sometimse I think we are better mothers than we are wives. I may be the leader in this fallacy as I remember clearly saying to Richard at the birth of our ninth child and he was still leaving his dishes around the house, “Richard, I have nine children and I really don’t think I can have ten children! You have got to take care of yourself! This was meant to be a wake-up call to let him know that he needed to take responsibility for his own things and that I needed help with the dishes as well as with the children. I must say that he was a champion in helping with the kids…telling stories, putting them to bed, entertaining them endlessly and helping them set goals. But I just felt that he had a long way to go in helping around the house and he needed to know that I couldn’t take care of him in addition to all the omnipresent, never ending needs of the kids.

I was right about his need to help but dead wrong in thinking that he had to take care of himself. My very first priority, even if it didn’t mean equal time, was loving my husband and nurturing that relationship through all the mayhem of living that was going on at our house. Through the years I have figured that the kids are only in our home for a finite number of years (for us that number seemed infinite) and after that, what you have left at the house is your relationship with your husband (as well as the continuing bigger, more urgent needs of the children as they spin off into their own worlds outside your home). By then your relationship with each other is even more important as you go forward together.

I know there are probably a lot of single moms reading this column and I salute you. Your job is the hardest job in the world. BUT those of you have husbands living and supporting you, this may be one of the most important things you will learn in the lessons of family life. Happily, our daughter has figured this out much sooner than I did! I love this little message that I lifted from her blog. I think you will see what I mean as you read her thoughts:

My “Number One”

“Sometimes I miss Dave. We live in the same house, sleep in the same bed, sit at the same table for dinner, raise the same kids. But sometimes, when things get really crazy, it’s like we’re strangers passing each other in the hallway with ringing headaches from screaming kids.

On a typical evening as we try to talk…me asking what he has on the agenda for the weekend and he telling me some story that happened at work, Grace is interrupting to tell me (in a very dramatic way) every detail from her field trip, Lucy’s screaming for who-knows-what since she’s so darn frustrated that she can’t tell us, Claire’s crying in the corner because she got her feelings hurt about something or other, Max is pounding on the piano, and Elle’s begging for a friend to stay for dinner.

Oh, and there are the friends causing commotion too…playing tag which involves running around the house either slamming the doors or leaving them wide open (great for the air conditioning bill), needing supervision while swimming, and yelling to be heard by each other over the roar of the waterfall, fighting over who gets which princess dress-up…you get the idea. Oh, and I can’t forget about that incessant ringing of that darn phone. (We don’t usually get our phone, but the ringing alone causes a little bit of head-ringing.)

I love being a mother with all my heart, commotion and all. Oh how I love to kiss off those kids’ cheeks and snuggle up to read bedtime stories together. But as much as I adore those kids, Dave is my Number One. My sweetheart. My lover. My best friend. And when I’m a shriveled up little old lady (as little as you can shrink to when you start out at six feet tall), I want to remember this: he was my first priority. He’s the one who lights up my heart with something as little as giving me a wink across the dinner table commotion. He’s the one I’d rather be with than anyone else in the world. I love you babe.”

The challenge this month is to take stock of your relationship with your greatest asset, your partner and your best friend, even if the things you love most about him are also the things that drive you crazy! How can you make that relationship richer, fuller, better, more meaningful? One night Richard and I decided to write on a piece of paper three things we thought we needed and three things we thought the other needed. Then we shared our lists. It was amazing! Some things we got right and some were dead wrong! We giggled about the fact that we always thought the other needed the things we ourselves needed which wasn’t always right! Just this simple little exercise taught us something about each other that changed our relationship for the better. Good luck!

Valuesparenting.com

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