Being the opinionated firstborn-of-four-girls that I am, I determined pretty early on that I was NEVER getting married. There was no way I was going to cook, clean, wash, and iron the rest of my life. The irony of my ironclad declaration was that I was engaged by eighteen and married by twenty. God put a man (let’s be honest, he was a boy at the time) in my life that changed my mind. He happened to be raised by a single mom who taught him to cook and clean. She worked full-time, so much of his training was out of necessity, but based on the confirmed reports of all his relatives, my husband was a “perfect child.” Being raised by a village of a grandmother, great aunt, cousins, and other females of various housekeeping talents, my husband can honestly “do it all.” He learned how to bake, cook without a recipe, build, sew, and even clean a toilet! There were also many male role models who stepped in and taught him the meaning of hard work, putting family first, and leading by example.
His amazing résumé didn’t mean we had a perfect marriage – we were babies trying to figure out the life of bills, college, careers, and growing up. We waited seven years before trying to have kids, and that’s when our lives got even more tricky. I remember crying to my husband in those early weeks with a newborn, “I’m so glad you know who I REALLY am!” I felt like an alien had invaded my body. He was just as much a novice as me and in most cases he is more emotionally sensitive, but he was able to see my needs. Most of the time it was obvious what I needed help with – more sleep, more diapers changed, and a little more privacy – and he stepped in. We didn’t have family living in the same city, so we really were figuring it all out that first year on our own.
Our two kids are 20 months apart, so the toddler years were pretty exciting. Nursing a baby while an almost two year old wants to pull you over to what he wants was quite the juggle. Oh, and did I mention that we lived in 5 places between 3 cities in those twenty months of having two children? There were no professional movers either; and since I was mostly pregnant or recently postnatal, I was little help. Each time, my husband would say “I’ve got it,” and he would rent the truck and do most of the loading (with the assistance of friends).
Fast forward about twelve years, and he is still the only way I’ve survived motherhood – him and my faith-filled prayers. I am blessed to be a stay-at-home mom who spends most of my workdays with no makeup on and the ability to attend all the sporting events and mid-day assemblies and class parties. I do my best to keep the laundry washed (maybe not all folded) and the dishes done (even if it’s just before the husband gets home). But what I’ve learned in our twenty-two years of marriage is that we balance out each other’s strengths and weaknesses (most of the time) and that communicating our expectations is so important.
He doesn’t usually wipe down the kitchen counters, but he will make the most delicious meals I’ve ever tasted. He will gladly drive the kids to school when his schedule allows even if it means he has to get up an hour earlier to round at the hospital before he takes the kids. He will stop at the store for anything (yup, even THOSE) on his way home from work. Someone asked me recently, “how do you get your husband to go to the grocery store?” I thought she was joking. I do NOT love grocery stores (still praying for that Trader Joe’s here in Waco), and my husband is so efficient at flying through HEB (with or without a list). In my own defense, I am the primary grocery shopper, but he does his fair share of planning and even more of the cooking (as opposed to my heating up a pre-made meal).
I’m not saying every Mom needs their husband to do all these things; these are the things that make ME a better Mom. More important than pitching in around the house, my husband still wants to go on dates, still wants me to pursue my passions, and always gives me the benefit of the doubt. As Moms, we need to know we are that woman he married yesterday and that status will be just as important someday when the kids are out of the house. Until then, keep holding hands and facing the joys and challenges of parenting one day at a time.