I put the babies to bed by myself on Sunday night. You should know, I hate putting them to bed by myself. Not only is it crazy getting four little guys down at the same time, in the same room, but it’s just sad.
They miss their Daddy.
He has the wonderful advantage of patience at the end of the day, having been at work and missing them all day. He isn’t immune to the crazy that happens at bedtime, and he can be pushed to the edge by the up and down, going potty, need a drink routine, but it takes him longer to get there than it does me. And so, he is king of bedtime stories and he faithfully answers all the calls for snuggles.
When he’s out for the evening, I am on. And however worn and frayed I am, I believe every child ought to be sent to dreamland with a story and a snuggle and so I muster my old high school drama skills and read a chapter out of whatever book we’re on with as much feeling as possible, and then I hunker into each little bed for a few minutes, whispering how much they are loved, every one. And I give a billion kisses. And I love that time, I really do.
But, the truth is, it’s Daddy’s domain and I am just fine letting him have that space in their day. They’re used to having their Dad all to themselves at that hour, and no matter how animated I am during reading time, or how many kisses I give, they want him.
And so, he’s not gone very often. It’s pretty rare, a fact that I am so thankful for.
But Sunday night, we ate our dinner in a hurry so he could help me with showers and jammies, and then he was out the door. And I didn’t complain once.
Because I’m making room for him.
If you haven’t done the math, I had four babies in five years. Actually, it was 4 years and 364 days. And if you think I’m some sort of Super Woman, you’re sadly mistaken. The only reason I have survived the last seven years is because I have been given a very wide net by my husband. The years haven’t been perfect. And our marriage hasn’t always been the kindest place, but there has been a lot of grace for each other. Mostly for me. Never once in these hard years has he come home and surveyed the disaster of a house and said a single word. If dinner wasn’t on the table, he asked what he could pick up. He did his own laundry. He let me sleep in every single Saturday. He never made me feel like I was failing, though I’ve felt it plenty anyway. It’s as if he was blind to my mess, and just walked along beside me, imperfect and wonderful.
And, in as much as it’s my turn to make some room for some things in my life, it’s his turn too.
And the thing he wanted to make room for was a once a month stint at the local Rescue Mission, playing the piano for a Sunday night service.
I think we can make room for that. We need to make room for that.
You see, my husband does not swear, as a rule. In our house, I’m the one with the mouth, the one with a pinch too much in the way of opinions and outrage. I talk and I talk and I talk, throwing out more colorful words to show I really mean it. Which is why it stopped me in my tracks when just a few weeks ago, words poured out of his heart and they were seasoned with just a little bit of profanity. This was obviously not some ordinary conversation or conviction.
After ten years of marriage, you’d think we know what we’re doing. We have four gorgeous and hilarious sons, and a mortgage. We go to church and do other church things. I make dinner in the crock pot and he does bath time and stories before bed. We’re good folks who lead worship and make meals for families with new babies. In the early days, I threw out ideas like San Francisco, Seattle! He smiled and dug his roots a bit deeper into this place, this middle of the state valley like spot. I wasn’t right and he wasn’t wrong, but there are things we’ve missed along the way.
It’s tricky business, this American Evangelical Middle Class Family thing. We have so much access, so much to process, so many telling us what to think, how to read, how to interpret, who to believe, who to be wary of. Any time I have my own little thought in my own little head, I begin to feel guilty because who on earth am I? And who agrees with me? Do I have a right to think I could be part of this or of that?
And he’s tired of it. He’s worn down by the us vs, them, the sitting, the listening. The bullshit. It’s time to move, to make some room in our lives for something other than the status quo. We never wanted that life anyway.
“What would our purpose be?” I asked, as we pondered a little seed that was planted, and replanted, and replanted again.
“People,” he answered.
Yes, we can make room for people.
None of it is without cost. I don’t love when my sons go to sleep with Daddy snuggles and stories, but once in a while, it might just be okay to teach them to make a little room. Give a small corner of their territory. It’s so tempting to never ask them to give up anything, to have them grow believing they have full access to us, to every bit of our lives. I believe they need to know that of course they do. Everything we have is theirs. There is nothing we wouldn’t do for them. And I think knowing that, they are more able to release a bit of their claim.
Once in a while, as we all learn to make a little room.