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  • Kelly Marks

The New Guard

Tourists typically flock to see the ceremonial changing of the guards, which is exactly what it sounds like. An individual or group who is in charge of keeping watch is replaced by another. Parents are obviously the guardians when it comes to children, but that guardianship typically goes on into adulthood. Last night I witnessed a type of changing of the guards, and it wasn’t at Arlington National Cemetery or Buckingham Palace. It was on the sofa in our living room.


The Old Guard:

Paul’s mom was an amazing problem solver. She started two incredibly successful businesses and supported her family with 5 children all by herself. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s pretty close to impossible to run a business, let alone have 5 kids without running into some major snafus along the way.


As very young adults and young entrepreneurs Paul and I would run things by her when we were first getting our business off the ground. She would listen to our problems, hear our thoughts and possible solutions and give some feedback. Sometimes when things were stressful and the job was getting to us, we would go see her just to visit and talk about things in general.


The New Guard:

Last night Madi phoned late. She is always pushing herself to try new things - things outside of her comfort zone. She is fearless, and I am in awe of that level of willingness to take risks. But it doesn’t always work out. Sometimes you fail when you venture into different, unfamiliar realms. And the phone call was to tell us she didn’t make it. We were actually relieved as it would have strained her already tight daily schedule. But she was disappointed and tired, so a couple of tears of frustration might have been shed.


Paul started asking her questions and getting her to talk it all through. He gave her different possibilities as to why she might not have made it, and the positive sides of NOT making it. By the end of the call, the sting had been removed, and we were all howling with laughter.


I’ve always heard that from an evolutionary standpoint, men choose women who show signs of great fertility, and women choose men who look to be good providers. I don’t know how true that is although it certainly could be. If that’s the case, I must have chosen Paul because he appeared to be a good playmate for a child.


Proof of that would be when Madi was around 9 or 10 years old, and we were at the pool. A woman came up to me and asked if “that” was my husband. “Who?” I questioned. “King of the Barbies over there,” she said as she pointed. Yes, I replied without even needing to look.


And it’s true, Paul probably logged almost as many hours of play with Madi as he did with his brothers when he was young. He learned how to do a mean impression of Ursula, the sea witch from The Little Mermaid, and he did such an excellent job with a puppet that a 4-year-old Madi asked him to leave the room so she could talk to Missy alone. He gently explained that he kind of HAD to stay.


But he’s also been to hospitals for spinal taps, migraines, and stitches - although he usually has to offer his “support” from the waiting room. He has given advice, some solicited but mostly unsolicited, about boys, dating, driving, and a whole host of other subjects. And he has loved greatly from both near and far. Not too bad for the New Guard.



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