Yesterday afternoon I went out to see a friend, leaving the children behind with their father. He had all sorts of plans: “They can play outside while I dig the manure into the raised beds and polytunnel.” He also planned to powerwash all of the bikes. Fun, right? Kids love getting mucky, digging with spades and playing with water jet tools…. Well, it didn’t turn out the way he’d planned.
I got home from my lovely visit and he was standing at the sink washing dishes. He turned to me and said, “I don’t know how you ever get anything done in the day.” I have to say, it is the most romantic thing he has ever said to me. I wanted to do a little skip and a dance on the spot– my heart leapt inside me: I smiled and laughed out loud.
It felt great for someone else to simply acknowledge that it’s really hard to follow through on plans when you have three small people around. I felt understood: that he’d appreciated that my day is not my own, ever. That I do everything for them and with them, and that even though this is the way I choose for things to be (and I wouldn’t have it any other way) sometimes it can be difficult to achieve anything when you are constantly at the behest of others. Part of me was so pleased that it wasn’t all easy for him. Some little piece of me was glad that he struggled the way I sometimes struggle, perhaps because it made me feel appreciated.
I know that my husband really does appreciate me. But for some reason, his expression of solidarity and wonder at how I ever get anything done made me feel like a superwoman. Sometimes I just want someone to say, “gee, this is a challenge and you’re doing pretty well at it.” It means so much coming from him.
This morning I had hoped to sit down and do some reading and writing. Again, it didn’t turn out that way. I ended up sitting in while the children played “spa ladies”, making them a big Dutch pancake for a second breakfast, breaking the slow cooker (the answer to the question, “can the slow cooker pot also be used on the stove to brown meat?” is a categorical NO) and then driving a half hour away to pick up my husband who was out for a cycle and needed to be rescued from standing in the cold with a broken bike. No time for what I wanted to do. My plans were hijacked by others.
It’s easy to get resentful about this. But today I don’t feel that. After initially feeling disappointed, I knew that at some stage later in the day I would find the time for me that I had hoped for. And after all, I am not a victim. Doing things for my family is a choice. I wanted the children to have a fun bath this morning; I wanted to make them a nice treat for Sunday morning breakfast; of course I wanted to rescue my husband. (I didn’t really want to break the slow cooker, but at least now my curiosity is satisfied!) It really helps to remind myself that giving to my family is exactly that: a gift. I choose to give of myself out of my own free will and for love of them. Sometimes (like now) I choose not to give them my time or attention, and the older ones at least need to begin to understand that mummy has needs too. When my own needs are met, it’s much easier to say YES to the children without resentment.
Yesterday was lovely, not only because I got to see a treasured friend, but also because I came home to honey on the floor, yes, but also a husband who has a newfound appreciation for the fact that he is married to Wonder Woman!
(For those who are interested, apparently our toddler had turned the kitchen upside down while his dad was outside doing the digging. Cereal, honey, oats– you name it and it was on the floor. A lovely sticky mess for a two year old, but not that fun for dad to clear up! Rule number one: if your toddler is quiet and out of your sight, it’s a good idea to check that he’s not pouring honey on the kitchen floor!)
Photo credit: Flickr, Chris Darling, Portland USA.