It hit me one day last week while I was dusting the dining room chairs.
I made my rounds, thinking how I had read recently about one woman’s method of praying for the person who typically occupied that space. I cleared off crumbs and replaced the booster seat on the chair that my three year old typically sits in to color and do puzzles. I prayed for his creativity, his sensitive spirit, his artistic and methodical little mind. It made me smile and I thought of the people I love, the people who have shared that table space with us.
I finally got to the head of the table and began cleaning off the chair that my husband most often sits in. And you know what struck me between that moment and the two or three chairs before?
When I got to Aaron’s chair, I was tempted to cut corners.
I mean, it’s just his chair. I spent time dusting in between all the spindles on the other five chairs, but Aaron’s? Well, I mean, come on, I was tired of dusting and being meticulous by that point. It’s just my husband’s chair. It’s not like our guests sit there very often.
I paused long and hard.
“Just” my husband’s chair?
When did he get shuffled so low on the priority list? On the please-him list? On the do the best things for him list? I felt ashamed and I just sat back on my heels, kneeling there with a motionless dusting cloth in my hands.
And it made me think, what other areas with him am I tempted to fudge, to cut corners on?
Don’t get me wrong. I love my husband and he knows it. I have a deep respect for him and I do a lot to make sure he knows how much we appreciate how hard he works, how faithful he is, how selfless. I praise him to my children and I love him loud on Facebook and I don’t throw him under the bus with my friends. I don’t make jokes about him, I don’t say thing to others that I would never say in front of him. I truly do seek to do him good in this life.
But I can get distracted and lazy. I can get busy with my to-do lists and commitments and house upkeep and child training and Aaron comes up last. How many times is it, “Sorry, is a pizza okay tonight? I didn’t even THINK about dinner today.” And he rolls with it and he doesn’t care, but when I step back, what am I really saying? Am I communicating in any way that providing for our children all day was number one (which he desires) but that they are always first? Or even that my own rest time or work time is more important than providing love and yes, dinner, for this man who has pledged his entire life to me? Is dinner in the crock-pot really too much to ask?
I’m often busy and more often exhausted. I had two babies in two years and we moved just after I had the last one. I get a full night of sleep only when I’m not at home, which is pretty much never. He is forgiving with me for not getting to the folded laundry after a week (or two?!) and he rolls with the dust bunnies floating under the dining room table and he hasn’t said a word about how our bedroom has been a catch-all for everything that doesn’t have a home since before Christmas.
And I get annoyed if he tries to talk to me once the boys are down for naps.
And I get it and he gets it. He knows I deserve a break and I need a break and that I’m highly demanded of, constantly. He doesn’t begrudge me napping while the boys nap, especially when I start the day at 5 a.m. and am up a couple times every night with the baby. He works from home many days of the week and his office is upstairs, directly over our bedroom. So as I’m resting, I hear him up there on the phone and I hear the constant buzzing vibration of his Blackberry.
I’m resting. He’s working.
I’m not saying I don’t deserve a rest or a night out with my girlfriends. I’m not saying I shouldn’t take naps. What I’m saying is that it’s really easy to get in the mindset of what I deserve and what he needs to deal with. Because I’m a Mom. I’m a Mom and I manage little kids and run my preschooler to the bathroom, remember to send out birthday and anniversary cards and I own a business and I work at my church. It’s easy to add up all that I do and expect him to be okay with what’s left. If anything is.
Or maybe it’s just a frozen pizza again.
I want to tell you something about my husband. When I got set up with him on a blind date, I wasn’t too excited. I was a little bit jaded and had enough broken hearts in my back pocket to remind me that this relationship stuff was for the birds. I showed up in a ratty t-shirt, flip-flops and sunglasses on my head. I had an air of “I’m here for the free meal”. And you know what?
He fell in love with me.
He’ll tell you that I was a complete pain in the you-know-what during our first date, but he was wise enough to see that I was just nervous and I was putting up walls as fast as I could. And so he would drop everything to drive nearly two hours to come see me and take me to dinner. He created Valentine’s Day for me in July once he learned I had never had a good one. He drove all the way to my apartment simply to jump the battery on my dead car so I could get home for the weekend. He gave me an engagement ring that is prettier than anything I ever thought a guy would pick out for me. When I was heartbroken, he was heartbroken. When I have cried and despaired, he has cried with me... and given me hope.
He told me once that I am an angel God placed in his life and that he doesn’t know what he would ever do without me. He wanted me so bad that he waited for me. He loved me so much that he gave me his name and bought me a house. He has spoiled me and protected me and when I could have died in that car accident and had months of panic attacks, he was patient and loving. When I couldn’t drive to work because of crippling fear, he would lead me.
This amazing man became an amazing father. When I was craving Baconators and Chinese food and crying because I had to have Mexican or I’d die, he was there. He stood on his feet every hour, right next to me, while we waited for our first son to arrive. He picked flowers and brought them to my hospital room the first morning I was somebody’s mother.
And here I am, cleaning and thinking I’ll just leave him with a dusty chair.
I know the “me” time and the resting and the please-watch-the-kids-so-I-can-finally-shower time is vital. I know we need date nights and he needs time to watch the game uninterrupted. I am not devaluing what I or anyone does as a mother. I know it’s a full-time job and Aaron knows that, too. I may have two part-time jobs, but they are not my children. They are full-time and overtime blessings at that.
But the “job” of my husband, my work as a wife, is not part-time, either. And it is not, should not, cannot be secondary, even to that of our children.
I read a quote once that said, “The best thing a father can do for his children is love their mother.” But what about their mother?
Would it not be the best thing for my kids, especially since I have two boys right now, to show them how a woman honors a man? To show them through my actions how a Godly wife seeks to love and serve and protect her marriage? To give them a living example of what it means to be supported, encouraged and respect as a man? For them to recognize that I honor and love their Dad, not because of all he is or all he does or all he gives, but because he was intentionally crafted by God? Just as they were?
There’s some holy respect that needs to come into play there.
My husband is not perfect. And in no way did he marry a perfect woman. Even though at the time we both thought we were getting a pretty sweet deal. But then life happens and you get busy and you get stressed and you have babies and you can get lazy. Distracted. Caught up with the trappings and the webbing all along the fringes, and forget what’s at the center. Forget what’s right at home, coming home to you every night, day after day. Doing good to him all the days of his life is my duty (ref: Proverbs 31:12).
"Your wife shall be
like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be
like olive shoots
around your table…"
~ Psalm 128:3