It seems like open letters about parenting and marriage are all the rage this week. Two in particular have caught my attention. Both excellent pieces of writing that inspired this post.
“You’re a Stay-At-Home Mom. What Do You DO All Day?” on The Matt Walsh Blog
There is one more follow up response that is also worth reading.
How To Include Dad on Nurshable
This post is person-specific. I wrote it to my husband. I wanted to address him and I didn’t want to presume to speak for anyone else. I encourage you to join the conversation tell me what you are thankful for from your partner. If you don’t have a partner, thank anyone who makes your day better and life easier. A little gratitude goes a long way.
Don’t think I don’t notice. You get out of bed five days a week to go to a job that doesn’t really thrill you. You are never ready to get up at 6:00 but you do it anyway. You never planned on a job in a cubicle shuffling through human tragedy, but you do it anyway. You do this do that I can be at home with our kids, so that we can buy them good food and gymnastics classes and keep their home cozy and warm. Thank you.
You get home from that nine-to-five slog and you shelve your tired to be excited about the details the kids are sharing with you. You grab the baby from me and help get dinner on the table. You open me a beer. You listen as I recount my day’s mundane details and you hug me when it’s been a tough one. You come in ready to pitch in even if you’d rather read the news, surf Facebook, and enjoy a quiet beer. Even if you’ve had a bad day – and I know that you get your fair share – you put all that aside to be a good Dad and Husband. Thank you.
In the middle of the night you get up to check doors and get cups of water and put the damn cat out. You stay up late to clean the kitchen. You get up weekend mornings to help me out – even if what you really want to do is laze in bed all morning. You make sure the kids are listening, learning, and loving. You put your whole heart and soul into caring for them; bodies, minds, and spirits. Thank you.
You crawl up in the attic, down in the crawl space, hang the Christmas lights, fix the computer, and mow the lawn…among other things. Many of these tasks you find onerous, and you do them anyway and I notice. Thank you.
Thank you for every time you shelve your needs and desires and goals. Deep in the miasma of little children, as we are, it’s easy to forget that we are people separate from our kids. I haven’t forgotten that we are, that our marriage is not wholly defined (if hugely sculpted) by our kids. I see those desires and dreams and goals, and believe when I say that helping you achieve them is on my list of goals. You give so much to me and our kids. You put yourself on hold so often. Thank you.
Your gifts to our family make me frequently think of this scene from the 2003 Peter Pan film, when Mrs. Darling is talking to the kids before she and Mr. Darling go out for the evening:
"There are many different kinds of bravery. There's the bravery of thinking of others before oneself. Now, your father has never brandished a sword nor fired a pistol, thank heavens. But he's made many sacrifices for his family...and put away many dreams....He put them in a drawer. And sometimes, late at night, we take them out and admire them. But it gets harder and harder to close the drawer. He does. And that is why he is brave."
Sometime soon – too soon probably – our beautiful little people will be off somewhere exciting…without us. We will be able to write or read or cuddle or talk as our desires and interests dictate. We will be able to take a weekend at the beach and do nothing but… well, whatever we want. Just us. With each other. We will appreciate it more than we did a decade ago because we will know how precious focused time together really is. Someday we will do these little things together, and more.
In the meantime though, I have to go finish dinner and nurse the baby. You’ll be home from work soon and everyone will move into the inevitable chaos between dinner and bedtime. I’m glad and grateful that I have you to share that chaos with. I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone else.
Thank you for our beautiful family and every thing you do to keep it flowing. Don’t ever think I don’t notice.