Kissing Frogs

My excuse for telling my 9 year old daughter who she should marry is that I was delirious. It happened as she was kissing me good night and tucking me in. I get up at 2 am for my job, so my children put me to bed each night.

Before you picture sweet hugs and giggles and “Sleep tight, Mommy –,”don’t. 

It’s more like, “Get out of my room. I love you, too. Get OUT of my room. Give me my sleep mask. Put down the remote. Get O-U-T!”

My kids don’t do anything wrong. They’re just kids, which means they’re relentless and needy and demanding and care not a whit that I’m about to fall over from sleep deprivation. (Note to self: I should have milked this stage of my childhood more. It’s a narcissistic Narnia.)

A few nights ago, my 9 year old daughter was sitting on the edge of my bed, and for once I wasn’t frantically conducting child-from-room-evacuation.

frogs“I miss daddy,” she said. Daddy would return in ten minutes from dropping her brother at hockey practice. Her missing him was because she couldn’t wait. On this night, with mom passed out and her brother away, the two of them would play ‘church’ or ‘teacher,’ my poor husband always the student or the church goer. I had laughed when he told me how she would preach or sing at the top of her lungs and how he’d turn to the imaginary person next to him and murmur, “She’s really something, isn’t she?”

“You need to marry someone like your daddy.”  I was picturing her father being the obedient student/churchgoer when I said it. I knew he was exhausted, that he’d rather watch Sports Center with his precious 25 minutes before he had to get in the car again.

My daughter leaned in and wrapped her arms around my bent leg, balancing her delicate face on my kneecap.

“How will I know?”

The depth of her question floored me. How will she know?

I could have pointed out her dad’s wonderful qualities — how he treats me like I’m still his youthful bride, how he notices what I do for our family and tells me how much he appreciates it, how he is one of the most well liked people I know, how he is a helper in his community, how he wears his heart and faith on his sleeve, how he walks in the back door of our house every night, no matter how hard the day, armed with a wide smile and kisses all around. He is the only man who can smooth out the edges in his edgy wife. He is also the only person in the house who is the finder of all things lost (stuffed bunnies, video games, hockey tape, homework, his wife’s iphone/car keys/earrings).

Age 9. Heart not yet broken.

Age 9. Heart not yet broken.

But that’s not what I said to my daughter.

“Well, sometimes you figure it out by being with the wrong people first.”

“What?” She knit her brows together.

“You have to be with people not like your daddy before you find someone who is.. ”

She jerked upright like I had just spat at her. “Well, I’m not going to do that!”

I nodded. “I know, but you probably will. We all do. You won’t marry the first man you like.”

Now she was standing, disgusted, little hands propped on narrow hips. “Well, I’m not going to date the wrong people, mommy. Geez.”

To be clear, geez in this context means, “you idiot.” 

And that, my friends, is why I have written this. You are proof this conversation happened. I will resurrect this essay when she brings home the boy who churns my stomach, or worse, the one who will break her heart.

I will do my best to understand, even commiserate. It seems another lifetime, yet I can still recall the exquisite agony delivered to me by boys “not worthy of me” (so said my mother).

Several wrongs can make a right. See above

Several wrongs can make a right. See above

Then there is the thing that she can’t know until it happens to her. The wonder of being found, of having that right person arrive, able to see beyond the mess that is you, recognizing that you are their home and they have made it.

The path to that place is not an easy one, but it is worth every heart busted-up moment. It makes you realize Mount Everest is an ant hill compared to the learning curve that is life.

I excel at errors. I’m a master mistake maker — my life one of constant course correction, each failure an opportunity for grace.  I just won’t be getting any grace from the 9 year old.

She leaned over to kiss me, a chaste, quick, I’m-disappointed-in-you kiss, the silk of her long red pony tail sliding across my cheek.

“I’m not doing that, Mommy.”


“I’m not!”


She heard the back door open and slowly stepped away from the bed, her ‘I’m not doing that’ face still in place. Then she turned, and with a dismissive over-the-shoulder wave, was gone, off to play church with the first, best man she would ever know.








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19 comments on “Kissing Frogs
  1. Bert says:

    Great story. Thanks for sharing. Makes me want to try harder with my own (5&7) and prepare for that day they bring home boys that are “not worthy” of them.

  2. Barb Hiob says:

    Great job as always and so true.I have a 20yr old daughter I am thinking about right now. The future holds so many mysteries about relationships and so much more. It can be very scary. I am prepared though to hold and console her when that day comes. Thanks for reassuring my thoughts

  3. Lea-Anne Jackson says:

    Brilliant! I think this is my favorite blog yet.

    This: “And that, my friends, is why I have written this. You are proof this conversation happened.”

    And this: “She heard the back door open and slowly stepped away from the bed, her ‘I’m not doing that’ face still in place. Then she turned, and with a dismissive over-the-shoulder wave, was gone, off to play church with the first, best man she would ever know.”

  4. Beth says:

    So sweet. And true. Tears

  5. Nicole says:

    lol….you do speak the truth.

  6. Marla Shavin says:

    Jaye!!!! I love this so much.

  7. PHIL CORTE says:


    • Jaye Watson says:

      Phil, you have a wonderfully amazing daughter and granddaughters. Vicki is such a light, from the moment you meet her. And Grace…what can I even say? Just a beautiful spirit. They remain in our prayers each day. Thank you for reading.

      • PHIL CORTE says:


  8. Jody Noland says:

    Such a great post. Which also made me cry. Because when we first met, I looked with wonder and longing for a relationship like you and Kenny have. And now, I have one! Oh, the beautiful wonder of being found. 🙂 XO

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Jody, I can’t even tell you how happy your message makes me. Every time I think of you I smile. I’m so grateful and happy for you. Big hugs…

  9. Glenda says:

    Love this!!! Oh so true!!! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Kimberly Duckworth says:

    Another great essay! Oh the wishes we have for these kids!

  11. Marsha says:

    Before you say that I am biased because he is my brother, know that I absolutely without question had the best, most loving, decent, honest and faithful servant to God as my dad. My life was blessed beyond measure. Because of this my brother had the example of my dad to follow, and it is because of this that he is the man, husband and father that he is today. If Iris finds a man who is half the man her daddy is she will be one lucky girl.

  12. Laura Watkins says:

    Very well written. I will have to remember this when my 9 yr old son starts to date. I only hope we are raising a Godly, kind considerate young man and when he finds the right person and decides to marry her, he treats her with the loving kindness and respect I expect him to show her. It’s hard for their young minds to understand what that is and you are correct about dating some frogs before the prince/princess comes along. It’s God’s plan. My own experience was that I had to endure divorce to really know what I wanted and deserved. Luke’s father and I get along better now than we did together. I hope to help save my son from that hurt. A customer told me just today, “Mama’s always right”! I think he’s on to something!

  13. Stacey Ronnel says:

    I so enjoy your blog Jaye! Your posts make me laugh, they make me cry, and they always give me something relevant to think about. Thank you for that! Your Little Rock fan

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