I’ve never been much for promises. Probably from growing up in a devoutly fundamentalist household that staunchly drilled into me the concept of, “let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no.” I haven’t held onto everything of that nature I was taught, but some of it has a way of digging in deep, and tends to stick.
From that perspective, it’s better not to make promises than to break them. But we all have to engage with ourselves in certain negotiations in order to get through our daily activities. It starts out as a promise, until it becomes a pattern, and then a habit, and then a routine. That’s how we survive the craziness that is this life.
Even so, on most occasions I need to employ tips and tricks to help me keep my promises to myself. Like putting together a pillcase of prescribed vitamins before I go to bed to ensure I remember to take them in my lunch for the next day. (Which reminds me, I need to do that now — hold for a moment, please.)
. . . Or learning to use the power of words — even spoken only in my own head to myself — to send my subconscious the right message — such as, “I will” do that thing I intend to, rather than, “I really should,” leaving my lizard hind brain to automatically fill in the unspoken, “...but I won’t.” My doctor gave me that one... possibly a little outside the scope of her medical license, but she’s seen me through a lot... I’ve come to value her full service brand of caregiving.
. . . Or being privileged enough in my career to only choose the kinds of jobs where I can set my own flexible “core hours,” so I can be depended on to get the job done, but I’m not expected to be at the same place at the same time, day in, day out (which is fortunate for me, as monotony is a natural human habit I can easily fall into, but it’s really not a very good fit for me).
. . . Even buying or renting a home or a car, or having a credit card, or, effectively, anything on contract, for that matter, is essentially a promise to pay an agreed upon amount at a predetermined time. I keep a multi-colored GL coded scheduled calendar in a macro-enabled spreadsheet database to help me keep track of maintaining all those promises. (Fortunately, I work in accounting, so that level of OCD is 2nd nature to me.)
But there are at least a couple other, more significant resolutions I have made in the course of my life that still stand out...
Marriage — “that bwessed awwangement” — for example, is a lifelong vow, and the “trick” you get to help you keep your shared promise, ideally, is a partner equally dedicated to the same commitment. Minion makes it easy for me, though. He’s such a keeper, I’ve encountered multiple pouty ladies spouting various levels of partner-envy, with comments such as, “I wish I had a husband who... (whichever particular amazing thing he does invokes the most jealousy).” But I have another trick, too.
I discovered shortly after Minion and I said “I do” that there’s such a thing as “wedding band dermatitis,” aka “ring rash.” To get around the symptoms, I planted the tiny, velvet-lined, heart-shaped silver box that carried our rings on our wedding day (in a small pirate chest, borne by a 4-yr-old “knight”) at my bedside, where my Celtic dragon engraved tungsten carbide matrimonial adornment rests for the night each time I lay my head down until I get up, giving me the chance to make the same decision again, every morning of every day, or every time I leave our home, when the act of putting on the ring once more allows me to effectively say “I do,” all over, with just as much assurance as I did that first day.
Really, though, I feel like the fortunate one to have this condition, since most people who wear a wedding band all day every day never bother to take time to think about what that means, because it just gets overlooked and becomes forgotten. Instead, I get the chance to consider the greater impact on a daily basis. For me, that’s perfect, as I’ve never believed love is only an emotion, but rather, a decision, and a commitment, followed by action. When I say, “I love you” to my husband, that’s exactly what I mean, and that decision, that commitment, that action, every day, is exactly what he gets — what we both get.
I made a handful of promises that day... to cherish always the past we have shared, to relish in every present moment, and to eagerly seek out the future we will create together, whatever it may bring, come what may; to take my friend, my lover, my companion, and my equal, to have and to hold, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, in triumph or failure, through thick and thin, to honor, and to keep, faithfully, forever. I stood before my friends, my family, my beloved, and my God, and I swore to uphold my VOWS* to our family. My Dread Pirate Captain, I said “I DO” then, I still do now, and I always will — today and tomorrow, from this day, until my last day.
The resolution that followed, though, perhaps the biggest of my life, came nearly two years later, in the smallest of packages — just under 6 pounds, to be more precise. This is not a promise commonly made by many 40-somethings, but for me, it helps to keep me young. There are advantages and disadvantages to being an older parent, obviously, but I like to think I’ve been around long enough to have gotten most of the classic mistakes of youth out of our way by now. Which isn’t to say I won’t be plenty full of middle aged blunders, going forward, to be sure. But I hope, knowing who I am at this point in my life, and having come through so much to get to that solid place, this bundle of joy, now two years enriched in our lives, will grow up able to faithfully believe I mean what I say when I pledge my love and devotion to his wellbeing and best interest.
Our culture doesn’t have a habit of making vows to our little ones. But our responsibility to them is even greater than the resolution we offer to our mate. I want him to trust me, and to hold me accountable for what I tell him to be true. So I’m not afraid to make promises to my baby, promises I know I can never break — not without being in the wrong, in his eyes, in my family, and in my life.
Since before he was born, I have been so resolved, and to this day, I remain resolute...
• ...to always be present
• ...to love unconditionally
• ...to lead by example
• ...to teach with integrity
• ...to grow continuously
...and SO MANY MORE.** Because my baby is worth it.
My little one, my heart, I said so then, I still do now, and I always will be;
today, and tomorrow, from this day, until my last day, I am...
LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 1 - Topic: RESOLUTION
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*Full text of Vows to my husband can be found here:
From This Moment On — A Pledge to My Dread Pirate Captain On Our Wedding Day
**See the baby contract in its entirety here:
A Mother’s Pact — Maternal Vows of Love to Our Newborn Child