There is a running list in my head – a scoreboard, if you will – of all the things he’s done wrong today; everything from dirty laundry on the bathroom floor to the open closet door I’ve begged him to shut again and again. He didn’t offer to fold laundry last night and the trash bags have piled up for two days and he just won’t scrape the leftover food off his plates to save his life. I tally the score all day long, even when I don’t realize it, hoarding my grievances for later when I’m emotionally spent and need to hold a grudge over someone’s head.
Him – my punching bag.
He comes home after a long, hard day at work with a half-smile on his face. He picked up groceries on the way here and he’s exhausted, but happy to be home. The kids run to him for hugs and he looks at me as if to say, You’re next. I want to hug you too.
But I ignore him, trying my best to avoid eye contact. I’ve been grumpy most of the day and can’t explain why, but I’ll blame him. I’m tired too and, for some reason, feel I deserve something for it, like a day off. I don’t want a hug. I want a housemaid. He holds me anyway and reminds me to breathe.
Him – my daily hug.
I should show more gratitude for this man, who has come home for “second shift” to help me juggle the load and tuck the kids into bed and share with me a few minutes of adult conversation before we, too, pass out. Instead, there is resentment welling up in my heart. I know that after the hugs, he will go straight to the bedroom and close the door for 20 minutes to undress and unwind before dinner. I can’t really blame him, but I do. What I wouldn’t give for even 10 minutes to myself to use the bathroom alone, to fall down on the bed and just breathe. But feelings of guilt from my own shortcomings don’t allow me to stop right now. I won’t take a break, even though he offers to help. In fact, I might turn the tables and create an argument about why I can’t take a break like he can. My words will upset him momentarily, but he’ll return soon to try again, because he knows I’m simply overwhelmed. And I’ll feel a little better that he cares. He always cares.
Him – my best friend.
He brings his phone to the dinner table and it feels like he’s ignoring us. I know, however, that he’s still unwinding, but this isn’t the type of thing I want to teach our kids. I push back by turning up the volume on the television. He hates when I let the kids watch TV during dinner, so he turns off his phone and gives me the look. I roll my eyes and pause the movie.
We push and shove our way through this meal that should probably be more peaceful and delightful. But what is peaceful with little children in the home? The littles are messy, noisy, and do not yet remain seated until everyone is done. It’s late, our food is usually cold by the time we finish, and the kids are running circles around the coffee table with their last ounces of energy that seem to make them more wild and crazy than they’ve been all day. He raises his voice telling them to stop. I tell him not to raise his voice, but then I raise mine too. Together, we handle the situation and agree to put them to bed NOW.
Him – my partner in crime, my push and shove, my baby daddy.
The truth is… I want to hear about his day. I like to feed him when he comes home and show him that the clothes are clean and hung neatly in the closets. I want him to enjoy playtime with the kids, and I want him to rest. I want him to feel better than I do in the morning. I need him to keep going when I cannot. I crave being near him. I pray for him constantly and I am grateful for him.
I am also torn between giving him space and encouraging his big dreams and reminding him how much he means to me; or selfishly focusing all my energy on myself. It’s a daily battle to choose right over wrong, good over evil, difficult over easy, and others over self. Thank God for sending a good man into my life… I am not making these decisions alone. I do not struggle alone.
I LOVE HIM so much I can’t stand him. He keeps me sane and drives me crazy. He has my heart. We work well separately, but usually better together. I know this. I never want to be without this remarkable soul; this exasperating, wonderful man.
Him – my better half.
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To all the men out there who play hard, work harder, and love hardest… You probably deserve more than you will ever receive, so instead just know that you are greatly appreciated. HAPPY FATHERS DAY, now and forever.