15: Virginia Beach Is the Limit

15: Virginia Beach Is the Limit

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

Virginia Beach Is the Limit

A fellow who does things that count, doesn’t usually stop to count them.

~Albert Einstein

When I think about what makes me fall in love over and over again with my husband of twenty years, I know it’s not the flowers he sometimes brings home for me. It’s not the chocolates or cologne he surprises me with when he returns from a business trip. It’s not the bracelets, necklaces or earrings he gives me on special occasions.

Don’t get me wrong — I love all that stuff. But guys should be let in on Peter’s little secret — the way to your special lady’s heart is through her kids. Coming from a childhood where I saw my own father once a month, I know the priceless value of a hands-on dad. If the kids are happy, I’m happy.

I’ll never forget the beautiful scene in front of me one afternoon when I opened my little girl’s bedroom door to find her daddy sitting on the floor beside her, the two of them happily playing Barbies together — something she could not force her own mother or any one of her three brothers to do.

I don’t at all mind cleaning the kitchen by myself if Peter takes our three boys to the basement to play a rough game of roller hockey at the same time. They’re out from under my feet and the noise is contained down there. He even takes all four kids out shopping to the mall, a weekly event that I gladly sit out. I enjoy the peace and quiet at home.

Peter never looks better to me than at 5:30 in the morning, when he pulls on his jeans and sweatshirt, runs his hand through his hair and quietly pulls our happy nine-year-old son out of bed and off to hockey practice. What a dedicated daddy, I think, as I bury myself deeper under the warm blankets and fall back to sleep. Did I mention that he’s the coach? No relaxing in the stands and drinking coffee for my guy. He also coaches our boys’ baseball team in the summer, rain or shine.

When my siblings begged me to fly home for my mother’s seventieth birthday, Peter insisted I go for a long overdue vacation with my family. I knew the kids would be well cared for in my absence and I was able to enjoy myself without any worries.

Last year, the perfect ending to a perfect summer vacation made me fall for Peter once again. Actually, it didn’t seem perfect at the time. We had left the sun and sand of Virginia Beach behind us and stopped two hours later to get a good night’s sleep before attacking Busch Gardens Williamsburg in the morning. We were short on vacation time so Peter planned on driving all the way back to Pennsylvania the following night.

“Where’s Bunny, Mommy?” Janette asked, as she unpacked her suitcase.

I started to panic. Janette, at the age of ten, had never spent a night without Bunny in her life. I picked up the phone.

“Hello, it’s Mrs. Smith calling. We just checked out a few hours ago. Could you please see if housekeeping found a stuffed bunny in room 110? Yes? Thanks.”

I glanced at Peter, who was relaxing on the bed with three boys climbing over him.

“I wonder how much it’s going to cost us to get Bunny couriered back home,” I said.

“Back home? I need Bunny now!” Janette began to sob.

“You didn’t miss her all day; you won’t miss her for a few nights….” I argued.

Peter got up to hug a very distressed Janette and said: “We can’t leave Bunny behind. Let’s go.”

So away they went. Peter drove Janette all the way back to Virginia Beach, got Bunny, and drove right back to Williamsburg. Janette slept most of the way, but of course Peter couldn’t. He got a few hours of sleep at our hotel before spending the next day being dragged around from one roller coaster to the next by our eldest son, while I, with my fear of heights, relaxed in the shade and watched the younger three on the safer kiddie rides.

The six of us met up for lunch, and as Davie told his siblings how brave he was and what scaredy-cats they were, I enjoyed one of the most romantic lunches I’ve ever had. I smiled shyly and stared deeply into Peter’s bloodshot eyes, hopelessly in love with the wonderful, self-sacrificing father of our children.

Twenty years ago I took a chance that a man who was a fun date and a good tennis player would prove to be a great husband and a loving parent, and I have hit the jackpot. Love me… love my kids. That’s true love.


~Jayne Thurber-Smith

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