Having an only child is the maternal equivalent of putting all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Additional children give you the chance for a do-over or two; with only one, that's exactly how many chances you get to get the whole parenting thing right. I look back on the trail I embarked upon 32 years ago and I see it littered with the weeds and stones of my mistakes and missteps. Occasionally I'll spot a bit of something shiny. I hope it's a marker for a good decision made, or the right thing said at the right time.
Yet, in spite of my occasional impatience and bursts of short-temper, the young man standing at the edge of this path -- my son -- is the brightest thing shining there. He's a terrific person with a great good heart, and he's at a crossroads. He's getting married soon to a beautiful young woman with a great good heart of her own. I have just one chance to get this whole mother-of-the-groom thing right. Over the years, through trial-and-error, I've learned a thing or 11 about what it takes to make a relationship work. I'd like to share these bits of wisdom with him now -- 12 things he should know before his wedding day.
- Never take her -- or anything -- for granted. Be grateful every day for the life you have and the love you've found.
- Do something nice for her every day, and thank her for something at least once a day.
- Remember that marriage is not a competition except for this one thing: try to out-love one another.
- Embrace her neuroses. That is, should she have any.
- Respect her. Respect her. Respect her.
- Communicate with one another clearly, calmly, and constantly.
- Listen to what she has to say and put yourself in her shoes while she's saying it.
- Make time for each other.
- Be in the moment when you're together. Concentrate on one another, not on your work or your smart phone.
- Hold hands every chance you get.
- Make love with one another as often as you can.
- Put the toilet seat down and pick up your clothes from the floor.