It’s 9 p.m. and my husband and I finally have the kids in bed after another long bedtime routine. Bubble bath until fingers and toes are wrinkly, brush teeth for five minutes because our toddler has mastered the art of procrastinating, put on their favorite pajamas, read endless books with our most theatrical voice, take bedtime song requests and sing them on repeat, pray, give goodnight kisses, and don’t forget the sometimes long and panicked manhunt for their favorite bedtime toy that could literally be anywhere at this point as you hear them crying in the distance as if they’ve lost their best friend while you look for said toy. We shut the door, make a dash for the couch, let out a big sigh, and finally RELAX.
As I sat down on the couch beside my husband, I discreetly studied his face. When did those fine lines appear on his forehead? Is that gray hair in his beard? When is the last time I studied his face?
When did I become so caught up in motherhood that I stopped truly seeing him outside of his role as a dad?
It’s easy to do. I imagine a large majority of mothers can relate. Our children take so much of our time and energy, leaving us absolutely exhausted and longing for sleep instead of longing for our spouse. I felt my heart break as I looked at my husband. An overwhelming sadness and yearning for him came over me. After all, before kids, it was just the two of us. A more carefree and a lot less stressed version of the two of us. I thought to myself, Is he yearning for me, too—and what we once were before taking on this beautifully chaotic role as parents?
I began to reflect on the last three years of our lives since our family doubled in size. How many times have I pushed him aside to get a few extra minutes of sleep? When was the last time we cuddled? When was the last time I told him how much I appreciate everything he does for our family? Then I began to think back on how I was raised to prioritize my family in the following order: God, spouse, then children. I made a promise to myself when we were expecting our first child that I would strive to adhere to these priorities in the correct order, but it didn’t take long for my husband to come in last.
All the while, he remains understanding when I fall asleep on the couch after just a few minutes of sitting down (and even has a plethora of unattractive photos of me sleeping with my mouth wide open so we can laugh about it the next morning). He jumps in and takes on both roles with the kids when he senses my patience is hanging on by a thread. He encourages girls’ nights out and solo shopping trips. But the most amazing thing of all, he has never made me feel guilty.
This man who has come in last for the past three years has shown me nothing but grace.
As I continued studying my husband’s face, his eyes met mine and with a confused look on his face he asked, “What are you looking at?”
The man who made our children the luckiest in the world because they call him dad. The man who works tirelessly in and out of the home and never complains. The man who shows me grace when I’m less than deserving. The man who ensures I feel worthy. The man who brings peace in the midst of every storm. The man who fervently prays for our family. The man I couldn’t imagine doing this life without.
I know there will be many days when all I can do is survive until bedtime, and my husband will be left alone on the couch. There will be days when all I want to do is be alone. There will be days when the stress that inevitably accompanies motherhood will consume me. But from this moment forward, I am making a vow to myself and my husband to never stop truly seeing him even on the days he comes last.