Promises

After our beach walk on the last night at the Outer Banks, we came inside to have dessert (and all the other snacks we had leftover in the fridge).

We talked about our vacation and whether we wanted to come back. We had had a similar conversation when we arrived – the one where Josh asked me to send him an email to remind about a reunion in the Outer Banks we would have when they were older.

So, after spending the week and loving it, I suggested we all promise to come back out to the Outer Banks to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary (in 17 years). Of course we all agreed we’d like to come back before then – but wanted us all to make a promise for the future too. A promise seals the deal. We all started imagining what we would be doing in 17 years – where the kids would be, what they would have accomplished, would they be married? Families? As we were talking and laughing making up stories about who they would become, Sam started a side conversation with Rob:

Sam – “Dad, you are going to have to give me your phone number, email, and street address so I can have them then.”

Rob – “Don’t worry Sam, I’m sure you’ll have it.”

We couldn’t really hear what Sam had said, so we asked Rob to repeat it – which he did. We all burst out laughing because it was so cute.

Sam seemed a little unsure about why we were laughing so hard –but he turned to Rob and held out his little pinky and said “Pinky swear Dad you’ll give me the numbers and address.”

Rob did a pinky swear with him, and we laughed even harder.

Sam – “I don’t care – Dad did a pinky swear” – as if to say we were all laughing because we thought Rob was lying to him!

I loved this story because A) it is so darn cute and B) I love how in Sam’s mind, his Dad made a promise to him and he knew his Dad would not let him down and would always uphold his promises.

In our house we take “I promise” very seriously. (That’s why I wanted to seal the deal for our 20th Anniversary together with “a promise”).

I’m not saying that it should not always be taken seriously, or that it isn’t always taken seriously by others. But we know around here if someone asks you “Promise?” you have to stop all joking around (if you were) and tell the exact truth.

We often see stories change a little bit, or are less exaggerated, or more details follow….

I also encourage the kids to not overuse “I promise” . Sometimes they will say it out of a habit, or just in passing, and I really encourage them to find a new word or to not use “promise” for a trivial matter.

I also encourage them to not “promise” unless they are absolutely sure they can fulfill whatever they are promising. That way, there is less room for disappointment and being let down – which can lead to trust issues.

I want them to know that a “promise” is not only going to be fulfilled when it’s convenient – or only sometimes. I want them to know when they “promise” – it is a full commitment to not be taken lightly. Ever.

I guess we are particularly sensitive around here about making promises because all our kids have lived through divorce. How do you explain that to them?

They asked: “Did you guys not promise to be together”?

Ummm, yah, but it’s complicated. Hard to say, “Well actually, we kept our promises”. But then it’s confusing because we are now so insanely happy together – was it not meant to be? Big adult questions that I don’t think even adults ever figure out.

But their next line of reasoning always falls to: “Well how can we believe that you guys are going to stay together”?

Initially, they were all sceptical. A promise means nothing right? Josh told Rob one night a couple of years ago, after Rob said he loves me and is not going to divorce me, “You never know Rob, you can change your mind”.

Josh seems to be particularly stuck on this. A few months ago he was reading a series of books for school. The first one was called “Lulu Gets Married”. The next one was called, ”Lulu Has a Baby”. Josh paused and said, “I bet I know the next one” “Lulu Gets Divorced”.

Sad that my seven year old thinks like that – but they all have this insecurity. Kids may be “resilient” about divorce as everyone used to preach to me – which they are – but they certainly don’t get through it without some baggage.

Which makes it even more important for us to show them how important a promise is. With time, maybe they will become a little less jaded. We do see them start to feel more confident and secure in our home, especially as time goes by and it’s not just words we are giving them. It’s our actions, our lifestyle and ultimately our love, trust and commitment to each other. We never want to take a “promise” lightly – no matter what.

I’m glad a “promise” is significant in our home. I’m glad that Sam was totally confident that the pinky swear with his Dad sealed the deal. Nothing to worry about. Dad won’t let him down.

The only thing I’m still wondering is why our two youngest think we are not going to be in contact with them in the future and that we need to give them our coordinates and email them info??? Need to work on that next I think….


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