You Didn’t Have To Do That

We had a fabulous weekend celebrating our newly minted five year-old.  Saturday, our house was filled with dear friends and a pack of wolves children. There wasn’t a single Pin-able thing about the party.  Invitations came via e-mail… who prints five invitations anyway for five five-year olds anyway?  Decorations consisted of the smiling faces that walked through our doors.  Music was provided by laughter and happy squeals.  I summoned the courage to bake the birthday cake, full well knowing if it was awful that the grocery store was only a short drive.  It was good enough, that I might try it again.  I had so much fun that the only picture captured was of Bigs passed out in his bed post party, softly snoring with the slightest smile still glued to his face.  

If the mess left in the wake of the party is any measure of how much fun was had, everybody had a blast.  Don’t get me wrong, we had many guests pitch in with kitchen clean up, for which I’m eternally grateful.  Sunday morning, looking around my heart exploded as I saw scraps of wrapping paper and torn-open boxes, the leftovers of celebration.  Taking a deep breath, I staved off the overwhelming feeling of angst associated with the clean up.  I mentally had to redirect from what I could see to what I was feeling.  We got the kids up in their rooms to nap.  I hopped in the tub to relax for a moment before facing the reality ahead.

As I crept down the stairs while the kids were sleeping, I poked my nose around the corner as I reached the bottom step to see that my husband had picked up the entire living room.  He didn’t have to do that, but you know what?  It made my day.  It makes me happy that I didn’t have to do it myself, but what makes me even happier is that he knows the peace having a clean living room brings me.

When I think about life with two kids, two working parents, and all the schedules that go with our chosen lifestyle, it often feels like a treadmill of to do lists, mundane chores, correcting behaviors, and cleaning up.  Time for making memories, being romantic, and relaxing seem sparse. Instead of heading straight out for his run (his preferred form of self-care), my husband stopped to do one small thing that he knew would bring me a small pleasure.  It wasn’t shocking that he did it, because he is very helpful around the house, but it was completely unexpected.  (Does that make any sense?)

Ask any of my friends and you’ll find out that my husband is one of my biggest blessings.  Married for 13 years and together for 17, we’ve woven our lives together from free-spirited college days, the beginnings of our careers (including a year in which both of our companies were bought out and our job futures became uncertain), reveling in the spoils of being DINKS, the joys and pain of starting our family, a season of depression that nearly broke us only to find it made us stronger, and all of the in between. Individually we are hardly perfect.  Our marriage isn’t perfect.  Somehow when you combine it all together we are perfectly imperfect.

One of the things that brings our marriage a little closer to perfection is the thoughtfulness demonstrated in picking up after his own kids.  It isn’t grand gestures, but the things that remind us that we care, we know, and we want the best for the other that make the monotonous routine a little more rich.  It is a two-way street.  It’s not always easy.  I find myself having to check my ego in having thoughts of all the things I’ve already done or how busy I am.  Instead reminding myself of how he delights and surprises me and the feeling of seeing the smile on his face and spark in his voice when I reciprocate.

Bigs will be busy writing thank you notes for the presents he received at his party.  It may be old fashioned to send mail any more, but I don’t think it will ever go out of style to freely use the phrase “Thank you.”  I can’t write a thank you note for all the things my husband does to bring lightness to my life, but it isn’t a phrase to be rationed.  If he has ten minutes to pick up the mess in our living room, I have 20 seconds to give him a hug, the joyful satisfaction of a job well done, and validation that I noticed.  As a former boss always said, “A behavior rewarded is a behavior repeated.”  Words to live by, my friends.  Words to live by.

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