Monthly Archives: June 2015

Big Shoes

Some nights, Prince Charming sleeps on the sofa.

And I love him for it.

We’ve driven around the country together.  We’ve crossed the Atlantic.  We’ve jammed up against each other, close and personal, in tight train cabins across eastern Europe.  We’ve spent nights apart, wishing for the warmth of the familiar body even while relishing the chance to stretch out.  We’ve yelled at each other.  We’ve given the silent treatment.  We’ve laughed.  We’ve stayed up too late, slept in, or gotten up too early and did it all again.  I’ve dented his expensive guitar.  He’s hurt my fragile female heart.  We’ve laughed and learned and looked confused with each other’s mothers.  We’ve given both sets of in-laws grey hairs and their first grandchildren.  He’s eaten burned dinners and cold ones.  I’ve learned to live on his paycheck.  He buys the good shoes.  I’ve had to admit impulse shopping.  I’ve carried all his children.  He’s wiped the tears of all of mine.  We’ve gained weight and sympathy weight; our shapes have changed.  Our lives have changed because of how much life we’ve done together.

 

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There’s a video floating around the internet of some guys experiencing pregnancy and labor. They get hooked up to machines to simulate the pains of childbirth.  I don’t know if they make it through and get a milkshake at the end of the whole ordeal (which I consider a very necessary part of the delivery process.)  I haven’t watched the video.  There are times it’s helpful to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, but I don’t believe my husband would be a better guy if he walked this one.  He can’t walk the marathon miracle race of childbirth.  He can’t mimic the days of nesting instinct that cause mothers to rearrange the sofas through Braxton Hicks contractions.  He can’t feel the unborn child kick as a big brother drapes himself across mom’s expansive belly.  He can’t experience the wash of hormones that allow mamas to take another breath and push.

But he wouldn’t be a better dad or husband if he did.

His own two feet have been imprinted with legos in the middle of the night, but he bore it silent so as not to wake mama or baby.

His own feet have grown numb in the pre-dawn winter cold when he drove to another day of work in a minivan with a sluggish heater.

His own feet have paced the emergency room floor with a sick child at night.

His own feet have come home repeatedly to a disheveled house and tired wife rather than spend the evening with friends.

His own feet have warmed his wife’s cold ones even when they went to bed not speaking to each other.

His own feet have worn mismatched socks because no one had attempted to scale laundry mountain in the living room for too long.

His own feet have been rolled over by his son in a wheelchair.

His own feet have often carried the weight of two children up and down the stairs.

His own two feet have often hit the cold floor before light so he’d have time to read and pray before spending a long day at work.

I don’t expect him to walk a mile in my shoes.  I’d rather he be man enough to go shoe shopping in the ladies’ section with his wife.

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Sometimes I have gotten upset because he wasn’t doing the dishes, or helping with the homeschooling, or scaling the side of laundry mountain.  Sometimes he doesn’t look for a honey-do list first thing on a weekend.  Sometimes he keeps the kids up past bedtime, or offers them ice cream at dinner time.  Sometimes he disciplines them differently than I would.  Sometimes he falls asleep when I want to talk.  Sometimes he forgets to touch me as much as I need him to since I’m a slow-cooker and he’s a microwave.  Sometimes he and I really don’t think the same.

And sometimes I’m patient enough to remember that is a good thing.

 

We’ve been made very different because we were both incomplete alone.  Sometimes marriage highlights the differences, and it makes for Hollywood-worthy drama.  Or comedy.  But Hollywood misses the fact that marriage, like wine or wood, or cheese, or sex, gets better with age.

Sometimes real husbands sleep on the sofa so that a sore tired mama and a new baby won’t be woken by an early alarm.

That’s love right there.

Happy Father’s Day, Prince Charming.

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Sisterhood of Yesterday’s Pants

I woke up on Saturday.  Yesterday’s jeans lay on the floor where I’d left them.  There was a dried spot of regurgitated milk on the left thigh, and a streak of garden dirt across the shins.  They were stretched out in all the places that you want jeans to stretch in.  But it was Saturday.  Of course, this doesn’t make much difference to a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom of sleep-defying toddlers, whose husband generally works weekends.  So to celebrate in the only way possible, I spit on the laws of the cultural laundry gurus.  And wore yesterday’s pants.
It is true that as a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom of sleep-defying toddlers, whose husband works weekends, I have the right to wear yoga pants pretty much 24-7.  If I want.  But I realized somewhere in the past decade that yoga pants are good for yoga.  And lounging.  And sleep.  And any time you’re not on the clock.  But they are not good for homeschooling, stay-at-home moms of sleep-defying toddlers, whose husbands work weekends.  Because those moms are not doing yoga.  Or lounging.  They are definitely not sleeping.  And they are, almost constantly, on the clock.   They – I – wear a lot of hats.  But more importantly, as chief cook and bottle washer in this joint – I have to wear the pants.

So I make it a point to get dressed every morning, even if I’m not stepping a foot beyond the front porch all day.  The most rebellious I get is wearing yesterday’s pants.  Don’t they say to dress for the job you want, not necessarily the job you have?  I want the job of a homeschooling, stay-at-home mom – who has it all together.
Which I don’t.
I came downstairs on Saturday morning and put some eggs in a pot to hard boil.  My husband left, coffee in hand, for a long day at the store.  He’d come home after the kids were in bed the night before, and wouldn’t be home during the children’s waking hours until the middle of the next day.  So it was my job to hold down the fort.

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The kids pattered down the stairs at exactly 7:02 a.m. (They have to stay in their beds quietly until 7 for the sanity of all humanity.)  Chocolate milk spilled at exactly 7:05.  Yet another of our old Berenstain Bears book covers was ripped off at 7:08.  The first fight of the day was broken up at 7:11 (they were late for the day.)  I nursed the baby for approximately 7 minutes until I remembered the eggs.  All the water was gone and the bottom of the pot was red hot.  So I threw away half a dozen slightly charred eggs around 7:19.  (We eventually got around to eating bananas and cold cereal an hour later.)  We dug through the laundry piles to find clothes for everyone.  I put the toddler’s pants on the 4 month old. I didn’t notice.  The toddler himself never got around to having pants until nearly lunch time.  He uses them as a napkin anyway, so it was probably for the best.

Wearing the pants doesn’t mean I do everything right.  I am tired.  I am frazzled.  Maybe it’s spring where you are, but I have been in the same season for a decade.  It’s the end of a hard school year in a really small house with a crazy toddler and a new baby and oh my the clutter.  My house was built before Americans were hoarders and there isn’t a single closet on the 1st floor and only a couple curtained off storage corners upstairs.  Stuff. Is. Everywhere.  Stuff can own you, not because it’s worth much, but because it requires so much.  Take the dishwasher, for instance.  Please.  It currently stinks because of old food buildup in its drain.  On Saturday, I had to pull on my big girl pants and clean it.  It is slimy down there.  Dark.  Mysterious.  And my almost two year old desperately wanted to join me because clearly it must be fun.  Why else would the lower half of Mommy’s five foot frame keep flailing to keep him from jumping on the dishwasher door and shaking the countertop loose?  It seemed like something out of a bad sci-fi movie where the evil alien slime robot sneaks into the house through the dishwasher drain and sucks unsuspecting homemakers out with yesterday’s congealed oatmeal.  (Which I’m not worried about here, because the drain is so full of yesterday’s oatmeal that he’d have to give up and try the neighbors instead.  We’re safe.)  It was not glamourous.  It did not seem glorious.

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But it was glorious.  It truly was.  I’m learning this.  God is most glorified when I am elbow deep in ancient bacon grease, because I am there doing the work He has given me.  The work of God is generally the dirtiest, most repugnant, least obvious.  It is the most needful.  If Jesus were walking the earth today, He would not be found in a sharp suit next to the proud CEO of a new non profit hospital on the front page.  You would be better off looking for Him holding back the ponytail of the tired single mom cleaning toilets on the old geriatric wing.

And He was there Saturday morning. With me.  Hallowing my dishwasher as I knelt before Him in yesterday’s pants.  One thing I’ve learned – you don’t need to dress up to meet your Maker.  In fact, many a conversation we’ve had as I stood too long in the shower, wishing I didn’t have to get out and face another snotty faced toddler or explain fractions or pay bills or wipe hot foreheads or stinky bottoms or watch my husband stagger as he brings home the hard-won bacon.

He is not God just at weddings and funerals and Sundays.

He is God at 2 a.m. when the whole world minus the baby wants to be sleeping.

He was God on Monday afternoon when the toddler dunked the iPhone in the muffin batter as my husband called to say he’d be working late.

He is God on the 12th round of chemo.

He is still God when good people die and bad men walk free on earth, when white is called black, when wrong is called right.

He is God who makes the sun rise again after a night when the world seems to have spun out of control.

He is God and I am not ashamed for Him to see me in yesterday’s pants because the uniform of the holy is made beautiful by stains of faithfulness.

He is God and He is good.  Even at dawn on Saturday mornings when your phone sounds muffin-y and your house smells like burned eggs and nobody else is wearing pants.  This is holy business, mamas.  This is worship.

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