Night time falls and the wee hours come, and still Andy works away at his desk. The crunch of the last two months of the school year are on him. He still will need to get up and leave me in the morning, in so few hours.
Yet he’ll get me a bowl of oatmeal with agave nectar, peanut butter, banana and walnuts because he loves this Bumpkin every bit as much as I do and he loves me in ways that make me ache a little inside with longing when he’s not near me to fill up my soul. While I drift back to sleep he’ll rush out for another day of corraling children’s waning attentions, of cooling tempers, of calming pre-teen energy levels and teenage hormones alike, of patiently reminding them not to break each other’s arms at recess.
He’ll come home tired but always smiling when he comes through the door, happy to see me no matter what state I’m in, from having dinner on the table to sacked out on the couch begging for a pickle to ease my tummy. When he’s grumpy and busy he’d still drop everything to get a hug, and so I know that his stresses can’t hurt me.
He loves me.
I think that maybe pregnancy has changed us a little bit. We both have more love, not just to have extra for the baby but to have more for each other. I don’t feel fully alive when he’s not nearby. Every thought, every word, every idea has to be shared with him or it means nothing. We draw closer and feel deeper bonds building between the deepest places of our soul, and I know God is doing that for a reason. This baby is pulling us together, knitting us with more strength than I knew we could have, so that slowly we become something new – a family. This baby is fitting into our marriage and is building the walls of it up, forming herself a safe, fully protected nest lined with love and edged with forever.
And so in the wee hours, with Andy still up working and me facing another day at home alone and another busy evening tomorrow, I don’t know fear. Not for the present, not for the future. Because he’s mine, and I’m his, and she is ours. And with love, there is no fear.
Andy works hard. As a teacher, he doesn’t get to knock off at 5, 6 or even 7 pm. He often collapses on the couch at 11 pm and he leaves his pregnant and extremely snuggly wife cuddled warmly in bed every morning with hardly any moaning. Even when all the papers are graded and the next day’s lectures prepared, there’s always an abyss stretching beyond 3 pm the next day when the students go home – not to mention next week, next month, even next year.
But Andy leaves a wife half-awake clawing at his retreating pajama shirttails every morning in bed, and frequently comes home to a wife who acts more tired than he is after 9 hours of work. On the best days, the chores are all done and I’m happily awaiting him with a dinner in hand or in mind. On the worst days, I’m in bed with hair everywhere, my largest pair of yoga pants and a bucket next to the bed.
My contributions to the running of the household are hit or miss. Lately, the “hits” have been increasing day by day, but in the past the “misses” were pretty much standard fare. Even as I get stronger and more capable of taking care of the home, there are the inevitable queasy days – and my back just won’t let me do everything anymore, leaving more to Andy’s plate than he used to have.
Andy plugs away like the protective, caring husband that he is, both winning the bread and baking it too. He’s never complained about any state I’ve been in when he gets home. He makes me feel like a queen growing his prince or princess.
But still, I love his face when he gets home and finds things in a better state than they were when he left it. It’s good surprise. It’s joy that I obviously felt some energy that day. It’s the peace that only a fresh lovely home gives to a hard working husband.
So, I’ve made an effort to figure out what can give the most impact him with the least effort from myself, so that even on my worst (okay, worser, probably not worst) days I can generally welcome him home to a happy house. They kept Andy feeling loved and cared. Here they are:
- Keeping his bath towel changed frequently. They hang right next to the shower and while I remember to change mine all the time, Andy will forget. He loves a fresh, clean towel.
- Keeping the tablecloth and placemats clean. Nothing beats sitting down to a nice clean table at dinner time, even if Andy’s the one who had to get the meal together.
- Doing the dishes. Andy hates dishes. Since I can pop them in the dishwasher all day long they’re never that overwhelming to me.
- Cleaning the kitchen counters and sink periodically with Greenworks. Andy always marvels over the way I make things sparkle.
- Fluffing up the couch pillows and folding all the throws. The couch is the first thing you see when you enter and it’s nice if it’s tidy and not looking as if your wife just used it as a bed for the last 24 hours (even if it’s true).
- Cleaning his desk periodically. It gets covered in pencil grime, post-it-note stickiness, teeny pieces of torn notebook paper, and smeared bits of gel pen and marker – and he loves to sit down in the evening to a desk that’s been scrubbed clean.
It took a while for me to figure out what he likes best. He doesn’t care if I leave a pile of laundry to be folded for a week; he doesn’t need the bed to be made (although I would pass out before not making it); he doesn’t care what I’m wearing; he doesn’t need a fresh dinner every night.
I’m curious what other people’s husbands find the most enjoyable and peaceful around the home or to come home to? Is it a big meaty dinner every night? Is it a guaranteed hour of your attention? Is it a neat lawn or garage? Is it a really nice outfit or combed hair?
I wanted to talk today about identity.
The first time that I knew that I was officially depressed was when I confessed to my Mom in the dead of night that I didn’t know who I was anymore. My whole life had changed when I got married, and I was still getting used to it when I started struggling with OCD. In the space of two years, I had radically changed – not just from OCD, but from maturing, from life circumstances, from marriage. I’d lost the thread somewhere along the way and subsequently, had lost myself.
That was a life changing moment. Not only did my Mom encourage me to pursue the idea of medication (which I did a month later, after my counselor echoed her thoughts) but I had realized the problem. I knew it. And I could start searching for the self that I’d forgotten.
I’d like to talk more about the struggle for identity sometime. There’s a lot to share and a lot of hope to be had.
But today, as I sat and pondered what I would write, all I could contemplate sharing with you is that through this last year of healing and becoming myself, my husband has stood by my side with patience and endless love.
Why does that matter? Because I needed someone to believe in me every day. To encourage me to keep looking for the special being that I am. To love me when I couldn’t love myself.
When we got married, the foremost concern we had for our wedding was that it typify the relationship between Christ and his church. I can say that where I’ve failed, Andy has exemplified Christ to me in our marriage better than I could have ever imagined. He loves me where I am, in my flaws and weaknesses and he still sees me as lovable. When I’m not beautiful to the world, I am beautiful in his gaze. And that is the core of my identity.
I didn’t know what I would write today, until I was mindlessly surfing the internet waiting for inspiration to strike and I stumbled across the Glee version of Bruno Mars’ “Just The Way You Are.”
One listen, and I cried. It felt like a hug directly from my husband who was at work and may never have even heard the song. I want to share it because every word is something he has said to me. It’s like he wrote this song. And it’s this constant encouragement and love that got me through three years. It was a constant reminder of Christ’s patient love for me, and sight for what I can’t see in myself. Who am I to degrade myself when Christ has made me into a beautiful new creation?
And that is the beginning of true identity.
[Click on the words to be taken to the Youtube video (the Glee version is better than Bruno's, I think :).]
her eyes, her eyes make the stars look like they’re not shining
her hair, her hair falls perfectly without her trying
she’s so beautiful, and I tell her every day
i know, i know, when i compliment her she won’t believe me
it’s so, it’s so sad to think that she don’t see what i see
but every time she asks me do i look okay
when i see your face there’s not a thing that i would change
cause you’re amazing just the way you are
and when you smile the whole world stops and stares for awhile
cause girl you’re amazing just the way you are
her lips, her lips i could kiss them all day if she’d let me
her laugh, her laugh she hates but i think it’s so sexy
she’s so beautiful, and i tell her every day
oh you know i’d never ask you to change
if it’s perfect what you’re searching for
then just stay the same
so don’t bother asking if you look okay
you know i’ll say…
It’s Christmas time, which means it’s time for my annual raptures over my Christmas tree.
I love ornaments for their memories. You’ve heard that before. But this year I want to share some ornaments with you that have memories AND meaning.
My paternal, German grandmother loved her Christmas tree. It was a towering testimony to her love for beauty, Christmas, and tradition. No one else was allowed to touch it, let alone help decorate it. I inherited this love, and hoped to someday receive some of her gorgeous glass ornaments collected from her travels around the world. However, soon after her passing, my Grandpa moved to a smaller dwelling and in the process, all but approximately five ornaments were smashed. My Dad has a couple of them now.
When I got married, my Dad’s sister gave me a beautiful gift at my wedding – a lovely set of Bridal Collection Inge-Glas glass ornaments. These ornaments each have a special meaning and blessing for the young married couple’s new home. Apparently in the German tradition it was customary for a new couple to be gifted with twelve ornaments in these shapes, giving blessings for a happy, lasting home.
I know that the gifts were also a tribute to my Grandma’s German heritage and love for her tree. Even though she never hung them on her own tree, they still remind me of her and make me feel like I’m carrying on her love.
I’d like to share them with you. They are some of my most prized possessions. I hope in return you can tell me if you have any special Christmas decor in your home that means something to you.
I apologize for some of the out of focus pictures. I was in a hurry when I snapped them and didn’t realize how off the focus was on a few of them. Bear with me, as you’ve done so often before. :)
Santa: Unselfishness and Goodwill
Heart: True Love
Angel: God’s Guidance in the Home
House: Shelter and Protection
Bird: Happiness and Joy
Rose: Beauty and Affection
Flower Basket: Good Wishes
Fruit Basket: Generosity
Fish: Christ’s Blessing
Pinecone: Motherhood and Fruitfulness
Rabbit: Hope and Faith
If you want to check out the set I own, you can visit this link. As I poked around the web, I found that these ornaments are quite popular and in some cases are sold out through April 2011.
Have you ever been to the wedding of someone you love dearly, and cried just because you’ve never, ever, ever, ever seen two people more unashamed, uninhibited in their love for each other?
Yeah. I have.
Her eyes never left his. Her shoulders and neck couldn’t help but curve toward him. Her fingers kept moving, holding his tighter and tighter.
And his eyes locked with hers in solemn disbelief that a creature so vibrantly, intensely beautiful – inside and out – was standing in front of him. In a white dress. Promising to be his forever.
I cried. My Mom cried. And during the post-ceremony slideshow, when a picture popped up on the screen of me and Stephanie as little five and six year olds, I cried some more.
Because what can be more joyful than sitting next to the love of your life, watching someone you love so dearly, someone you’ve known since infancy, someone who has been a constant, if distant, presence in your life, be united to the love of their life?
Unless it’s watching your mother burst into tears as your friend hugs her and whispers to her, “I love you so much, my second mom.” And knowing that someone with that intense power of love and care that you just saw in front of the altar has a little bit of that love for you and for your family.
God blesses us abundantly.
Receive New Posts in Your Email
Receive New Posts in a Reader
View more photos >