Written By: Campbell Manning,LPC

Four years ago, when my daughter, Margaret, was accepted to UVa, and decided to attend –she asked me one day, as the date of her departure approached, “What will happen when I get sick or just miss you and I’m six hours away?”. Clearly, she had finally realized she would be without my immediate support or comfort in moments like those, or in general!

I told her then, I would ALWAYS come to her when needed and ALWAYS be available to her.  Once this was said, we talked about our relationship and what the next four years would look like to us.

We decided it was important for us to remember how vital we are to each other, and consequently, we made a vow to see each other every single calendar month between August 2014 (when she started college) through May 2018 (when she would, ostensibly, graduate).

Since then, we have not failed to meet THE VOW!!

And, she is indeed graduating, gloriously, this Saturday, May 19th!!

Many people have been surprised by our ability to hold ourselves to the vow – and many, frankly, surprised we made it at all.  And, so, I have several times, questioned the wisdom of having done so and the substantial failure potential we faced.

First of all – regarding how smart we were to make the vow –  I stand by it.  There were certainly months where it was difficult to make it happen and months it would have been far easier to just say, “this month isn’t going to happen”.

BUT, BECAUSE WE MADE THE VOW, and it was of utmost importance to both of us, we were successful!  We just made it happen.

I left work late at night a few times in order to drive directly to Virginia, I’ve missed many Monday morning staff meetings in order to make the weekend worthwhile, and I left Charlottesville VERY, VERY early on numerous occasions.  Once, when our dog went blind, Margaret told me she would miss a cherished event at school and drive home instead – to keep the vow.

WHY, you might ask??  Because, I determined that summer of 2014 that seeing my daughter every calendar month needed to matter to me.  Because I love her, because I had learned the truth that the parent-child relationship is IRREPLACEABLE, or maybe – because I am just stubborn.

Regardless, it became paramount to me to honor my vow and place this relationship above and beyond many other things.  And Margaret felt the same.  She looked forward to our weekends and made sure to find the balance needed to work them in.

From the beginning, Margaret started making the colorful friendship bracelets I am so delighted to wear on my left arm, and she would give them to me when we saw each other every month.

Each has meaning (from as obvious as green and red for our first Christmas while she was a UVa student – to as as unique as to represent the favorite colors of her brother and his future wife upon their engagement!).

Lots of them have fallen off, as they are supposed to, and, while I miss them and what they represented, I have them all saved on my desk at home in a beautiful glass bowl.

These deeply treasured and cherished bracelets represent the vow Margaret and I made – and they remind me DAILY of how important my vow to her is and how IMPORTANT all my children are to me.

Vows, in general, need to be looked at closely, and evaluated for value and strength.

The differences between a vow, a promise, and a resolution is in the semantics.  According to the dictionary, a resolution entails the quality of being determined.  A promise is the declaration of a specific thing that will happen.  A VOW is the SOLEMN promise to follow through regarding a specified commitment – a covenant.

The difference between a vow and a resolution is significant.  A resolution means you will try and A vow should mean you WILL do it.  Sadly, wedding vows have fallen into the promise category and a promise is widely acceptable as being breakable.  In my mind, a vow is not.

Why should we make vows?  Because with vows we remain true to ourselves.  Regardless of what others think (like driving to Virginia or bringing your daughter home every calendar month is impractical – or even “dumb”!) you persevere BECAUSE IT MATTERS TO YOU.  In the keeping of our vows we feel pride and joy.

Addiction Counselors Pride and Joy Hope For Families Recovery Center
Margaret Manning Graduates!

You can vow to do whatever you choose, but before you make a vow you have to seriously decide if this is a promise you can keep – which therefore allows it to climb up the semantics ladder and be of supreme importance.  Ask yourself how serious you are, how dedicated you are to following through, and how much you are willing to give up in order to make the vow a true vow – not just a promise.

There are so many ways we can change our own lives – and the lives of others.  I think a great place to start would be to make vows a little more often – regardless of the time or financial commitments.

I already know what my next one is . . . . . .   to watch it unfold you’ll have to continue following my blogs!


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