My parents have always been a huge source of inspiration, both as a couple and as individuals. I grew up watching my parents celebrate one another; the admiration they hold for each other is refreshing. I always heard my Dad say, "Let me tell you what your amazing mother accomplished today," at the dinner table or hearing my mother say "Did Daddy tell you about his big news at work?" This taught me that your spouse's successes are your successes. It's a team and you provide support however it's needed: being a cheerleader, being a sounding board, being a silent shoulder, or being an anchor to keep them grounded.
They also taught me a lot about parenting. My parents have a great sense of balance in their relationship. Read: They are polar opposites most of the time. No way they agreed on every decision that was made. That being said, I don't recall a single time that I heard one of them undermine the other. Whatever one said, went. I imagine a lot of conversations and disagreements about choices went on behind closed doors, but Todd and I never saw it. This taught me the level of respect required for your spouse to parent in a positive environment. Why choose to build a family with someone if you don't trust their instincts and actions as a parent?
Finally, my parents taught me about love. Not movie love, not Nicholas Sparks love, not sparkly vampire love. Real love. Love in the real world. Love in a real marriage. Love between busy working parents. I remember when I was younger I was so disappointed that my parents didn't have an awesome engagement story. They literally got engaged over the phone. Something along the lines of "So I guess we should get married." As I grew older and met the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, this became the greatest love story of all. A mutual decision about the future of their relationship. It guided me to have the same discussion with my own husband-to-be. The greatest thing they taught me through this is how important communication is in sustaining a healthy relationship. They were never afraid to have conversations, beyond "How was your day?" It always amazed me at how involved my mother could be in the conversations about my father's business...quite a different industry from hers. They valued each other's opinions and genuinely sought advice from one another. They were also unafraid to have those tough conversations. The harder it seems, the more important it is to have. I remember a close family friend once told me how lucky my mother was to have a man who communicated as well as my father. Watching their successes in this really showed me how important it is, and how it's not always easy.
I love the life my parents built together and how much they've shared with us. We are so lucky to have them and to have their guidance and example. Here's to two true Pirates, a KA gentleman and an Alpha Xi rose, Richmonders at heart and North Carolinians in their souls. Here's to Laynie and Pops and at least 35 more years!!