As a stay-at-home mom of two under five, there is one text I often look forward to during the week from my husband: Hey, babe. I’m headed home.
I muttered, “Oh, thank goodness,” when his text popped up on my phone. It was a wait by the window to watch him pull in so I can get a head start on my alone time kind of day.
He pulled into the driveway but didn’t immediately come in. After several minutes, he walked through the door and was met by an exasperated wife and two screaming children. I gave him a quick kiss and said, “It has been one of those days. I need a few minutes to myself” as I hurriedly took off to the bedroom.
Once I heard the screaming stop, I quietly made my way out of the bedroom and felt a lump in my throat as I saw my depleted-looking husband eating leftovers at the dinner table with our children. As I sat down with them, he looked at me and said, “I come home and sit in my truck for a few minutes sometimes because I don’t know what to expect when I walk through the door.”
I do, though. He’ll walk through the door to an overstimulated wife who is ready to relinquish all responsibilities to an overtired husband. It’s so easy as a mom who is notorious for stretching herself too thin to feel entitled to alone time at any given moment. Yes, we absolutely deserve it, and it is essential. But often times we forget this one key part of doing this parenting gig as a team . . . Dads need breaks too.
And we need to normalize that. Because the truth is I can’t do this parenting thing without my husband. Well, I could, but I wouldn’t want to. I need him. I want him. I desire him in every aspect of my and our children’s lives.
But I can’t expect him to have a full tank when he walks in the door after working all day to immediately come fill up my empty one. Admittedly, I’ve been expecting him to fill my tank a lot lately. Even on days when I know he doesn’t have much to give. And what does he do? He fills my tank anyway.
He never asks for a break (and probably never will) even when I know he needs one. He would greet me with the same smile and kiss no matter what chaos he entered into. He would continue to heat up his leftover food and eat dinner with the kids alone for as many days as I needed him to. He would play monster and have dance parties in the living room while I take a long shower even if he was exhausted from a stressful day at the office. He would give me grace upon grace. He would love us well and continue filling my tank.
So on the rare occasion he takes a few extra minutes to get out of his truck, I’ll be ready to fill his tank, even if I’m running low. Because whether he admits it or not, dads need breaks too.