By the second week, pretty much anything can send me into tears, especially after 7pm.
My husband is amazing at his job, but he has intense deadlines that require him to work around the clock for a few weeks at a time. I start these “primary parenting” weeks out strong every time (“Yes! Meal schedule! Alarms set! We’ve got this!), then I get to the grin-and-bear-it stage (“Is the pizza here yet? Oh crap, I forgot it’s bath night.”), and finally I just start to sound like a grouchy old woman (“It’s fine to have a glass of wine at 5 PM, right? It’s universally accepted as happy hour. Who am I to argue? And where are my pajama pants?”).
Single parents and parents who hold down the fort while your spouse travels a lot, you have my utmost admiration because you give, sleep, wake up, and give some more. I only do this semi-solo for a few weeks at a time and I’m pretty sure I average about a C+. (However, if my kids could put themselves to bed, I’d be up a letter grade for sure. It’s that after 7 PM thing.)
Point being, these times aren’t the closest, snugglest, “I love you more! No, I love you more!” times of our marriage. ( OK, just so I don’t damage anyone’s street cred, we’ve never actually said “I love you more,” but you get it.)
But that’s real life, right? Real marriage – the ins and outs. Not just the party, but the morning, noon, and night. Because we are sharing our lives together and sometimes his job looks like that and sometimes my home looks like it’s been ransacked by three tiny gremlins while a woman on the couch drinks wine in her pajamas.
This has been one of those weeks. We said “hi” at midnight or 2 AM or sometimes just in the morning, and then said “bye” a handful of hours later as he headed to work after taking our girls to school. There were no date nights or full family dinners around a table. It’s temporary, but it can be tough.
But today, just by turning on the bathroom light, I thought about how much my husband loves me.
See, yesterday morning he was getting ready for work and I was scrambling trying to get the house in order (enough) for my dear little book club to come over. And it just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t think I had plenty of time to get ready, then freak the freak out that actual people will be walking through my door in an hour and it would be nice if they didn’t have to take “the path through the Legos.”
Without me asking, while we were chatting, my husband took the trash out. He said “let me change this lightbulb for your group” and grabbed a screwdriver and changed the burned-out bulb in the guest bathroom that was making it feel a bit cave-like. A few minutes later, he left for work.
Today, when I switched on that light, I thought about him. And it made me so thankful.
He was stressed, majorly sleep deprived, and had a million things on his mind and a conference call in an hour. But, because he cared about me and he cared about what I was doing that day, he took that little detour he wouldn’t have done otherwise.
I don’t know. Maybe it’s not worth writing about. But it’s just the way it struck me:
Don’t miss the little things in marriage. Don’t miss the lightbulbs.
Notice each other’s quiet gestures of love and thoughtfulness along with the loud, can’t-miss ones.
I love having a date night. I love receiving gifts. But there is A LOT of nitty-gritty life to be lived in between those things.
When it comes to a batten-down-the-hatches season, if I’m only looking for big ticket items to judge the status of our relationship, I’m going to come up short.
But if I look for the quiet ways we show love and respect and interest – the warm greeting hugs, the “how’s your day going?” texts – they start lighting up around me like fireflies. Or, you know, light bulbs.