As our son turned 28 last Wednesday, I found myself thinking about what we did differently, for Bruce and I to still be together after 29 years, and how Cameron turned out so well. I think that spouses and children require a lot of love, patience, respect, honesty, discipline, teamwork, priorities, money and learning when to hold one’s tongue.
When Cameron was unexpectedly created, by way of a most unusual and creative trick or treat (that’s another story to be told at a later date), Bruce and I made a commitment to be responsible parents. As we brought this little bundle of pee and poo home from the hospital on a record breaking hot day in Kansas City, MO, we knew that money was tight, there was no family close by, but we would find a way to make due and take care of this bright spot in our lives.
As we arrived in our little two bedroom apartment, our baby boy began crying. Now I was the second youngest of six kids in my family and I knew nothing about caring for a baby. Naturally, my first thought was that he was hungry. Nope, he declined a nip on the nipple! Next, I figured he had messed his diaper, so I peeked, poked and sniffed his backend, without taking the diaper off. Nothing stinky or wet back there. He still kept crying. Now I was thinking, perhaps he needs burping. Nope, he only cried more. I kept trying all these things over and over, until “I” finally burst into tears, feeling like a terrible mommy. Finally, the wise man in this marriage lovingly says, let’s take his diaper off and check. Unbeknownst to me, it turns out that boys pee up front (or in daddy’s face), not down and in back! Mystery solved and all tears cleaned up. (TEAMWORK IN MARRIAGE)
Because money was tight, we learned that Cameron was more important than shopping for personal satisfaction, so all of our extra money went to whatever Cameron needed. Let me tell you, babies require tons of diapers, formula, clothing, baby food, doctor’s visits, baby sitting fees, etc., etc. All this amounts to lots of money, but our rug rat was well worth it. (MONEY DOESN’T GROW ON TREES, BUT LOVE GROWS EVERYWHERE)
After losing a terrific baby sitter, a friend referred us to a “christian” woman, whose husband was studying to be a minister. (Important lesson – labeling yourself as being something, doesn’t make it so. Titles are just that. You have to not only talk the talk, but also walk the walk and live the truth.) She had a wild 2 year old daughter and was pregnant with another baby girl. Again, not being experienced parents, we did not immediately recognize that our baby was being abused in this environment. “How did he get that cut lip?” “He pushed himself up and fell on the pacifier.” “Where did that bruise on his face come from?” “My 2 year old may have been a little rough around him.” A phone call received, “He’s coughing up blood.” “Take him to his doctor. We are on our way from work.” She left immediately after we arrived at the doctors office. “Doctor, what could have caused this?” “The formula may have been too hot or maybe a blow to the stomach. Her child seems pretty wild.” Do you think my child is being abused?!” “No, but ask her to watch her child more carefully around him.” We told her this, and she assured us that she would keep her wild daughter away. A couple of weeks later, after picking up our sweet baby boy from the sitter home, we take his clothes off and find his entire back, bottom and legs black with bruises. A friend told us it could be caused by a blood disease that causes people to bruise easily. We realize that this doesn’t seem to happen at home, but we must cover all bases, so we rush him to the emergency room. The ER doctor doesn’t think it’s a blood disease but keeps him overnight for tests and observation. He thinks someone is hurting Cameron. We finally wake up and remove our child from the sitters home and decide that one of us will remain at home with him, to raise him in a safe environment. Because there were no witnesses, as to whether we or the sitter harmed Cameron, nothing could be done. Now, Bruce is furious and wants to go kill the minister and his wife! As much as I wanted this to happen, I knew that I did not want my husband in prison and my son to be without his daddy, so I begged him to drop it and focus on Cameron. I firmly believe that Karma will prevail. We decided that one of us would stay home with Cameron and the other would work. After a serious discussion, we both agreed that financially it would be best if Bruce stayed home. (PICK AND CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES & COMPROMISE)
Eventually we moved back to El Paso, TX to work with my sister and Bruce’s brother (who is married to my sister). (Another story for another time) Big mistake, but you learn from them, hopefully. Some partying, crazy, drinking, drugging, drama loving family members, who have troubled children of their own, just do not understand parents that dedicate their time to their child. They were angry and frustrated because, we went nowhere without Cameron. He was a well behaved child and we stuck to our guns. Bruce and I went through some really tough times, because of my crazy sister and his crazy brother, which resulted in an ultimatum to my man, asking him to pick Cameron and I or our crazy family members. He made the right choice. (PRIORITIES)
Throughout Cameron’s childhood, even through rough times in our marriage, our number one priority was Cameron. Bruce taught him to ride a bike, I taught him to play baseball, we taught him to put his toys away before bringing more out, we had Wednesday night reading without a TV on (his choice to read to us, us to him or quietly), we had exploration days (leaves one day, insects another – including tarantulas, ant lions and vinegarones, desert plants and tasting the cactus fruit). We walked him to school and, after school, required that he have a healthy snack while watching a wholesome kids show and then start on his schoolwork before playing outside and having dinner. If we set a rule and he broke it he knew there would be consequences, so he rarely broke the rules. Spankings weren’t needed because he knew we meant business. (TEAMWORK AND DISCIPLINE)
Cameron was raised to defend the schoolmate that was picked on, avoid fights but be ready to defend himself and others if there was no other choice, speak respectfully to everyone, share with others, enjoy and be kind to all life, be responsible for his actions, be honest with himself and others and do not harbour resentments because they poison one’s soul. He is now learning what it means to be a man and to make life changing decisions, even if they are hard to make. (LOVE, PATIENCE, RESPECT, HONESTY)
In my opinion, the things that destroy marriage include distrust, disrespect, lies, nagging your spouse – especially in front of others, cheating, not communicating, not listening to one another (I mean “really” listening), using sex as a way to manipulate and not finding a kind, loving thing to say to your spouse.
Bruce and I are heading toward 30 years of marriage. This is the result of our immediate family being first, picking and choosing our battles by holding one’s tongue until both parties are calm and then respectfully discussing our differences of opinion, unconditional love, trusting each other (I have never doubted Bruce’s love for me and he has never doubted mine), we don’t fear people of the opposite sex alone with either one of us because we trust one another and desire each other, we are both happy when the other is doing something they love to do – even if it’s without each other. Our list goes on and on. No relationship is 100% perfect. We have had some rough times in our marriage. The important things is that it takes “two willing people” to work through those times.