My husband is a good teacher. He managed a grocery store for nearly 30 years and several employees he trained have moved on to start their own business or to other management positions due to his mentorship. Over the years he also officiated for hundreds of youth basketball games and parents of players praise his style and are thankful for the instruction and interaction he provides to their athletes.
Plus, when I home schooled our three children for a period of six years, he was their math teacher — thankfully. He managed to fit in these extra commitments around a 60+ hour work week but none of his teaching stints required the stamina and devotion warranted by his most stubborn pupil: Me.
He began things with exuberance and optimism. Teaching me to drive, for example. I was just 18 and hadn’t gotten around to learning yet. He hopped in the passenger side of his Toyota pickup fairly confident about the task. Like any good teacher he began with the basics, “Push in the clutch with your left foot while resting your other foot on the brake.”
“So, which one is the brake?” I asked. Startled, Kris glanced at me sideways to see if I was joking. I was not. Casually resting his palm against the dash, he strapped his seatbelt on before repeating the instructions.
Our next car was a 1987 Ford Turbo Thunderbird Coupe — equipped with racing tires. I drove it exclusively for the next six years during some of the worst winters on record in South Lake Tahoe. My job required me to travel around the perimeter of the lake, to the Bay Area and to locations in Northern Nevada in every kind of weather.
Once, I spun out during a storm going over Echo Summit, stopping just shy of having my bumper hang out over Christmas Valley — before guardrails were installed in that section of the pass. But, I learned and we survived.
I spent the majority of our marriage creating what I hoped was an ideal environment for our children to learn and thrive in while striving to meet their every need. I had holidays to plan, Sunday School to teach, curriculum to write, play dates to oversee and it all went according to plan.
Until it didn’t. Without my permission things sometimes went awry. There were disappointments and tragedies along the way. My husband tried to assure me there would be both victories and heartache in any parenting experience. Still, I was so focused on preventative measures that I was ill prepared to navigate the struggles. But, I learned and we survived.
Exactly 30 years ago, I exchanged vows with my tall, blonde, green-eyed lover while some guy sang Art Garfunkel’s “Two So In Love,” and I knew everything I needed to know. Until I didn’t.
No one ever told me, how difficult it would be to find the balance of loving someone passionately without losing yourself. Or, how frightening it would be to turn our children loose in this world.
And, especially that forgiveness could be more precious than romance or being loved even with all of my flaws would be a greater gift than being admired for the picture of perfection I tried so hard to paint.
Still, because of my husband’s perseverance and long suffering, I learned and we survived.
And, for that I am eternally grateful. I couldn’t have chosen a better teacher.