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Don't Let His Smile Hide His Stupid
A letter to my daughter...and probably yours.
Don’t do it.
That’s what I keep thinking to myself as I lay in bed, the lights out and your mom snoring peacefully next to me.
Just don’t do it.
It’s not that I don’t trust you. It’s not that I don’t have confidence in you.
The challenge is that I don’t want you to settle.
Just the fact that you have questions and moments of doubt tells me to write this. Something you can take your time and read, digest, and question when you look at yourself in the mirror.
You may tell yourself that you’re in love.
Maybe you are.
But when that phrase comes up, two things come to mind.
The first is understanding what love is, and how you can tell it’s love, so you don’t make a stupid-as-hell judgement call. The second is knowing, through considerable experience between your mother and me, that love won’t always be enough.
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Love Doesn’t Always Come Softly
Let me tell you a story.
It’s about a young 20-year-old stud muffin from Oakland California, and the most gorgeous 18-year-old Samoan girl from Suva Fiji.
I’ve told you about my horrible car accident, how I lost my job, my home, and had to move back in with my parents. I couldn’t even hold a toothbrush properly with my damaged hands…but I could go to church.
That’s where I met your mom for the first time.
We’d come in late, your Nana and all ten of us children, from oldest to youngest, walking in after someone said, "Amen," to the opening prayer. That congregation had to be 300 strong, and all eyes were on the strangers. That walk from the back door all the way to the front row directly in front of the pew took an eternity.
But it was worth it.
Half way to our seats, your mother stood up to exchange places with your grandpa, and I swear my spirit just about jumped out of my body. Not because she was beautiful, though she was breathtaking.
It was a recognition.
All she did was look up at me and say, "Hi."
When my mother and the rest of us sat down, I grabbed the church program and asked my mom for a pen. Then I shoved it between my mangled fingers and scratched out, ‘You see that girl back there? I think I’ll stay awhile’.1
What most of you children don’t know is that I’d had dreams of a girl for over two years before I met your mother. These dreams were always the same. I knew I loved her, and she loved me. Her presence was so strong and unique. Yet I never saw her face. It always portrayed her in a silhouette, so I couldn’t see any details — just an outline.
When I met your mother for the first time, I knew she was the girl from my dreams. There was no doubt. No hesitation. No fear.
The reason I mention this is that your mother and I had a great deal of opposition, including your grandparents. The only ones we had in our corner for a time were my mom and dad. They understood what was happening, because it had happened to them, just like it had happened to my grandparents.
Nana’s mom and dad were engaged within ten days.
My mom and dad were engaged within roughly two weeks.
Your mother and I were engaged within ten days.
This wasn’t about rushing. It was about knowing.
How I Love Your Mother
To this day, after 33 years of marriage, I still get butterflies in my stomach when your mother smiles at me. Her laugh is one of my favorite sounds, and to love her is as easy as breathing.
I can only speak for myself, but when we met, I remember having a particular thought.
That I loved her so deeply, I would never give up on her.
…and that was from the moment I met her.
She was the person I wanted to care for, to protect, to encourage, support and walk side by side with. To hold her hand and beat a path for both of us, removing the snakes and stones in her path, so she could walk barefoot like the angel she is.
I wanted, with all my soul, to build a life with your mother. To grow old together and love her through anything and everything. No matter how hard it would be.
Is that how you feel about him?
Does he exude the confidence and strength to be your protector? To be a provider and helpmate? Do you…have confidence in him?
Do you feel he is your equal?
Don’t let his smile hide his stupid sweetheart. All the good looks in the world will fade from a person unworthy of your trust, adoration, and devotion. But for someone who is worthy?
Like your mother…
Their beauty and attraction multiplies over time, as does their value. As you both learn and grow, so will your appreciation of those traits that allowed you to weather the storms of life. With the right person, your love will become one of the foundational building blocks of life. Because love isn’t just a feeling,…it’s an understanding.
Your Testimony Is Your Anchor
Life is hard, sweetie. Hard enough that you don’t want to start a marriage with low expectations and even lower truths. Marriage takes both people, wholly committed.
Don’t listen to people who say a marriage is a 50/50 relationship.
That’s a lie.
This is about being 100% committed on your part. That you will sacrifice, endure, be long-suffering….because your spouse and his needs are more important than your own. Hopefully he will do the same.
The challenge here is that you both have agency.
You both get to choose for yourselves.
…even choose wrong.
It’s during those times, when one or both of you are having struggles, that the testimony of who you are matters. The testimony of why you got married matters. That the testimony of what you both built together, matters.
Because love might not be enough at that point.
There may be a problem, or problems, things unsolved, unresolved, communication failures…the list is long.
…and you may want to give up.
He might want to give up as well.
What will your anchor be in that moment, my darling?
His smile? His sparkling personality? His truck or savings account?
It will be the testimony of who you are, who he is, and what you agreed to build together.
It’s Never Too Late, Until You Say ‘I Do’
I know you’ve been having doubts. Your mother and I have seen it in your expressions and hesitations. I’m glad that you’re asking questions — and considering the future — both for your sake, and for his.
It’s important for me to stress this:
You are not bound or locked into this relationship. You have the freedom to walk away if you have the desire, regardless of how he feels. To be clear, I am not telling you to walk away.
I am asking you to be sure.
If you are not sure, for any reason, do not make the commitment. It will only bring you sorrow.
I know. You wonder what might happen to him if you decide to break off this relationship. If it will be too much for him, should you pull away? So let me put this as delicately as I can.
He’ll get over it.
…or he won’t.
Doesn’t matter because it’s not your problem.
If he’s strong enough, he’ll pull his junk together and support you in your decision, because he’s a man.
If he’s not strong enough, you sure as hell don’t want his pansy-ass attached to you, because he’s not a man. That’s called a leech.
Again, this is not me, calling him a pansy-ass leech.
Because that would be a shame if he was a pansy-ass leech.
So I am not calling him a pansy-ass leech.
I’m asking you to be sure.
It Will Happen
My parents were worried when I was 16.
I dated older women before I met your mother, and my parents were concerned that I’d want to get married at a super young age.
As I got older, I wanted more and more to get married, but I just couldn’t find the right person.
Papa watched me and felt for my predicament. He gave me some brilliant advice when I was at my lowest point.
"Don’t try to find that someone. Be that someone, and that someone will find you."
That put my mind at ease, and three weeks later, I met your mother.
Your mother is my equal.
She has my respect, my confidence, and my devotion through the variables of life.
Make sure you feel the same about the man you choose to marry.
BONUS: 25 Summer Water Activity Ideas for Families
I didn’t forget.
My promise to you when I wrote “SHARE THIS POST: 25 Family Fun Activities Most Parents Don’t Think Of”, was that I’d give you summer actibity ideas for 11 weeks. This is week two, and here you go!
1. Pool Party: Organize a fun-filled pool party at home or a local community pool. Set up water games, pool toys, and enjoy a refreshing swim together.
2. Water Balloon Fight: Fill up a bunch of water balloons and engage in a thrilling water balloon fight in your backyard or a nearby park. It's a fantastic way to cool down while having a blast.
3. Beach Day: Spend a day at the beach, building sandcastles, playing beach volleyball, swimming in the ocean, and soaking up the sun. Don't forget your beach umbrella, sunscreen, and beach toys.
4. Kayaking: Take a family kayaking trip on a nearby lake or river. Enjoy the tranquility of the water while paddling together and exploring the scenic surroundings.
5. Water Park Visit: Visit a water park with thrilling water slides, lazy rivers, and wave pools. It's a perfect way to have a fun-filled day with plenty of water-based attractions for all ages.
6. Tubing: Go tubing down a calm river or a designated tubing course. Sit on an inflatable tube and let the river currents guide you along for a thrilling and refreshing adventure.
7. Water Skiing: If you have access to a motorboat and suitable equipment, try water skiing as a family. Glide across the water, feel the rush of speed, and enjoy the exhilarating experience.
8. Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP): Rent or buy some paddleboards and try stand-up paddleboarding as a family. It's a great activity for building balance, core strength, and exploring calm waters.
9. Water Trampoline: Set up a water trampoline in a lake or a large pool and bounce around on it. It's a unique and enjoyable way to spend time together and experience the thrill of jumping on water.
10. Snorkeling: Explore the underwater world by going snorkeling. Find a suitable spot with clear water and vibrant marine life, and equip everyone with snorkeling gear for an unforgettable experience.
11. Water Gun Battle: Have a friendly water gun battle in your backyard. Fill up water guns and let the excitement begin as you engage in a playful water fight to cool off and have fun.
12. Canoeing: Rent or borrow a canoe and go canoeing on a peaceful lake or river. It's a great way to bond as a family while enjoying the serenity of nature.
13. Water Obstacle Course: Set up a DIY water obstacle course in your backyard with various water-based challenges like water slides, sprinklers, and hurdles. Create a timed competition for added excitement.
14. Waterfall Hiking: Research local hiking trails that lead to scenic waterfalls. Embark on a family hike, enjoy the natural beauty, and cool off by swimming or splashing around in the waterfall pools.
15. Water Volleyball: Set up a volleyball net in a pool or on a beach and play water volleyball as a family. It's a fun and active game that combines the joy of swimming with friendly competition.
16. Fishing: Spend a relaxing day fishing at a nearby lake or river. Teach your kids the basics of fishing, enjoy the peaceful surroundings, and create lasting memories together.
17. Water Aerobics: Join a water aerobics class as a family. It's a low-impact exercise that offers a refreshing workout while having fun in the water.
18. Waterfall Rappelling: For families seeking adventure, try waterfall rappelling under the guidance of professionals. Descend down a waterfall using ropes and harnesses for an adrenaline-pumping experience.
19. Water Relay Races: Set up a water relay race course in your backyard or a nearby park. Include activities like water balloon toss, sponge relay, and filling buckets with water for a spirited competition.
20. Water Yoga: Participate in water yoga sessions at a local pool or beach. Combine the benefits of yoga with the soothing effects of water for a rejuvenating and family-friendly activity.
21. Boat Tour: Take a scenic boat tour on a nearby lake or river. Enjoy the picturesque views, learn about the local wildlife, and relax while cruising along the water.
22. Jet Skiing: If your family enjoys thrilling water sports, try jet skiing. Rent jet skis and enjoy riding the waves, feeling the speed, and experiencing an adrenaline rush on the water.
23. Underwater Photography: If you have access to underwater cameras or waterproof phone cases, capture memorable moments by taking underwater photographs while swimming or snorkeling.
24. Waterfall Sliding: Find a natural rock slide or visit a water park with designated slides. Slide down the rocks or slides into a refreshing pool below, adding excitement to your water adventures.
25. Watercolor Painting: On a hot summer day, set up an outdoor watercolor painting station. Let everyone express their creativity by painting with watercolors while enjoying the refreshing breeze.
Keep in mind that these are ideas only, and should be adapted to your particular tastes, abilities and resources.
Question: Do YOU have any great ideas and/or suggestions to share that I missed on this list? I’d love to hear them in the comments…
About five years after your mom and I were married, I was looking through a photo album she’d made of our dating…and I found the original note from that first day. Nana had kept it, and made sure you mom got it.