“I HATE her; she doesn’t even try to understand me,” I slammed my 15-year-old fists into the unyielding gray dashboard vinyl of my dad’s red Nissan Sentra. Her, in this case, was my mother, and this was an all-too familiar scene in my teenage life. My mom had a habit of holding her daughters to the highest standards, and stubbornness was a trait we all shared. “I don’t even know how you can stand her,” I continued from the depths of my spleen.
“She’s God’s good gift to me,” Dad said, looking out at the winding country road ahead as he drove me around waiting on my teenage angst to subside.
“Well, I think you need to ask God about a refund. Besides, you always take her side.”
Dad just smiled slightly and shook his head, “She’s God’s good gift to me and you, too.”
We had that conversation often in my teen years and throughout my early 20s. I spent a lot of time spinning down in the passenger seat of my dad’s car, pummeling my irritation into the sides of my chair, the car door, the center console and whatever else was within range of my seat-belted self. My dad’s calm answer was always the same, whenever my irritation bubbled over into rage: Mom was God’s good gift to him. And to me.
I always thought it was unfair that Dad took Mom’s side. After all, I might have been young, but I had to have points sometimes. It really wasn’t fair that I couldn’t simply be an average student, but I had to make A’s. It just didn’t seem right that some of my classmates could coast by on their academics while I had to study Calculus. Of course, I had never been one to mince words about injustices, perceived and otherwise, and what often started as simple questions often escalated to biting, caustic remarks that would require another drive in the car and another calm reminder that Mom was God’s good gift to us.
As I got older I started to notice that I wasn’t the only one that Dad made that simple, declarative statement to. Whenever he was in the midst of a troubling situation that Mom had a hand in, he would smile that same smile, shake his head and note that Mom was “God’s good gift to me.” I started to understand that it was Dad’s way of reminding himself that no matter what situation he was in and no matter what kind of tumult was rocking the boat that help up his marriage, Mom and all that she embodied was a blessing to him, from God.
So when she started swapping out his meals for salads so they could spend more of their golden years together, she was God’s good gift to him. When she sat patiently by my paternal grandmother’s bedside as Dad and I turned away in too much pain, she was God’s good gift to him. And when he walked both of us down the aisle last year and proudly gave us stubborn, high-achieving daughters away to our own husbands, my mom, beaming from her seat in the front row, was there being God’s good gift to him.
So now, as a new wife, in those moments where the stresses of life seem too much, I am reminded of that simple statement Dad made so many times over the years. I now see the wisdom and importance in that small reminder, and someday, when our teenage children are punishing our automobiles, I will smile and tell them that their father is God’s good gift to me.
Ashley Davis is a resident of her parents’ spare room and the almost-owner of a new home in Dayton, Ohio, which she will share with her husband, Ben, and their furball Kairi.
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