I'm a sucker for similes. In case you forgot your English lessons from high school, a simile is a statement that compares two things - for instance, "My grandson is as active as a volcano" - or - "My snoring sounds like a jet plane."

One simile that never fails to make me giggle is - "Having children is like getting pecked to death by a duck." And, if you stop to think about it, that description is right on target.

How long would it take to die from a duck pecking you? Probably quite a while. It could be a never-ending process.

But, if you think about it, raising children is also a lengthy process. The birth is one thing, but then you are faced with years and years of care and concern for your child.

Even after your child reaches adulthood, you are still mightily involved with her life. No matter how far away she lives, you think about her daily, pray for her safety, and immerse yourself in her world.

And, after the grandkids arrive, the care and concern multiply. As you watch your daughter become a parent, the cycle starts all over again. Now you can not only worry about your child, but you can also worry about your child's children.

Whether it is baby-sitting or watching sporting events or attending awards ceremonies or going to a concert or even just shopping for gifts, you have your child and her family at the forefront of your life.

When your grandson enters college, you think about the current job market and pray that he chooses a major wisely. You think about how difficult his future might be if poor choices are made.

When your teen-aged granddaughter buys a new dress for the class dance, you get teary-eyed because she looks so beautiful and innocent. You say another prayer that her experiences will be positive, safe and healthy.

When your little grandson gets respiratory infections often, you dread the next phone call from that household because you'll hear his deep cough. The worry of having a loved one with health issues is the worst kind of duck pecks.

As much as you would like to be happy and enjoy your grandkids, you worry about their future. You feel that duck pecking at you.

Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a spouse who is immune to duck-pecking. If your husband is the type who deals with life in a calm, detached, rational way, then no duck can even come close to pecking him. Heaven forbid! The old shotgun would make quick work of that poor duck.

Which brings me to another simile - "Marriage is like trying to do a jigsaw puzzle that is all blue sky." Anyone who has ever done a jigsaw puzzle can appreciate the apparent futileness of such a venture.

When I do a jigsaw puzzle, I usually try to get the outside rim completed first. That's normally easy, because at least one side of each piece is flat. Then, I will use the picture on the box cover to place the other pieces.

But, imagine trying to fit the pieces together when they are all the exact same color without any clouds or figures of any kind. It would be a real challenge. Well, that's marriage.

As my husband and I approach our 30th wedding anniversary, we feel lucky to have each other. He's my best friend and I think I am his, too. We have weathered some storms and have found peace. Our lives are simple, but we enjoy each day.

However, a marriage takes work. As hard as it would be to complete an all-blue jigsaw puzzle, the day-to-day events in a marriage can be even harder. One must take great care to pay attention to how things fit together. There can be no squashing a piece to make it fit. There can be no discarding a piece because you can't find a place for it.

In life, having children and being married are two life events that require the best of our nature. If you start feeling as though the ducks are pecking you to death or feeling as though the all-blue jigsaw puzzle isn't worth the time and effort, then you might require an attitude adjustment.

When you get to that point, go and sit outdoors for a while. Maybe you'll see a duck flying up in the blue sky and you can giggle. Others may think you're strange, but any reader of this column will just nod her head and understand.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT DR. SMITH, SHE CAN BE REACHED AT HER EMAIL ADDRESS: JSMITH1313@CFL.RR.COM OR IN CARE OF THIS NEWSPAPER.