Well, it’s just Hunter the Dog and I here at home today. Just got the last two family members out the door for the day. In fact, those same two were the ones lolling on the couches yesterday, looking pitiful. Today, they left the house with bounce in their steps and PB&J in their lunch bags. Bionic Man looks practically unscathed, unless you take a really good look at the back of his scalp and see the bump and the small cut. And I was able to get every last drop of blood off the vintage Pottery Barn bedding that cushioned Bionic Man’s landing after he conked his head on the bunkbed, thank you very much.
About that…..(Bionic Man’s injury, not the vintage Pottery Barn or the bunkbed)…..it gave me much cause for reflection.
You see, sometimes, I get a little wrapped up in mourning what I currently don’t have. Babies. Toddlers. Five or six children at the kitchen table. A high chair with cheerios stuck on the tray. A stroller in the back of my van. A baby that accompanies me to the meeting at the middle school. A bouncy seat on the kitchen island. A preschooler to ride in the grocery cart.
As funny as it sounds, those were things that I had every intention of having in my life at this very moment. While I stubbornly refuse to give away the high chair, I am gradually coming to grips with the realization that I have left behind the days of mothering young children. And honestly, while I certainly don’t mourn the loss of stinky diapers, I do have to mourn the derailing of what we once planned for our family.
Monday night, as I sat with my [slightly] injured husband in the waiting room of an emergency clinic, it suddenly dawned on me that I could be grateful to be sitting there with him. At that point, he wasn’t bleeding and he wasn’t too uncomfortable. He sat reading a book, I riffled through a magazine. We didn’t have much to say. He didn’t need me there to dab him with cool cloths or speak words of encouragement. I simply drove him there and back, filled out paperwork, and got him a blackberry milkshake. There was no drama of wondering if he’d make a full recovery. It wasn’t an incredibly momentous or even memorable point in our relationship as husband and wife. It was just us, together.
But in that moment, I had to ask myself, “How many times have I been able to drop everything and do something just for this man? How many times have I been able to ignore other needs around me, and nurture him with my presence and a milkshake?”
And then I had to admit to myself, “How many times have I chosen to ignore the other needs and drop everything to do something just for this man?”
Obviously, there have been times in our marriage when the needs of our children have been extremely high and we have had to unselfishly choose those needs over our own as a couple. However, I cannot recommend that course of action to any other couple for sustained, long-term or general use.
Let me tell you what happens when other people or things come first on a regular basis in a marriage relationship. And it happens even when those people or things are wonderful on their own. Like children. Your foundation of love gets weakened. And when the earth-shaking events happen in your life (because eventually, the will happen), that foundation might not hold up under the stress and weight of the quake.
So, despite the sense of loss that I sometimes feel when I watch another woman load both her groceries and her babies into a minivan, I am learning to feel a deep sense of gratitude. How thankful I am that a loving, all-knowing Father in Heaven has seen fit to give me time and space and opportunity to focus more of my nurturing abilities on my husband! I am deeply appreciative that I not only have the Bionic Man as a companion, but that I now have the time and the willingness to choose to drop everything else to meet the unique and ever-changing needs of my companion. Do I do that as often as I should? Probably not. Is our marriage perfect? Certainly not. But, I am grateful for the opportunity that I have during this season of our lives to refocus and to improve on imperfection.
I love you, Bionic Man! Even with a head wound.