The door that connects the inside of our house to the garage makes a certain sound when it opens that no other door in our home does.

It’s a sound so loud that you can hear it while in an upstairs bathroom . . . and it’s one so special, the kids and I would agree it’s one of our favorites.

Because when we hear it, it means YOU are home.

It means we are getting YOU back to fill the void that exists for the hours you are off at work plowing through emails, meetings, presentations and paperwork.

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Within seconds of that sound hitting the air, my second and third favorite noises begin to erupt; three excited voices screaming “Daddy!” and three sets of feet pounding the floor to see who can get to you the fastest.

Every day you match their excitement as you bend down to greet your welcoming committee and jokingly call out whichever one forgot to give you a kiss.

They really adore you. And they miss you when you’re gone every day.

And I do too.

But you probably don’t know it.

Because when you come to greet me after the kids set you free, often times my kiss is quick, my “how was your day” is empty, and my huff-and-puff of how grueling my day was is long.

A far cry from the greeting you get from those tiny humans we made together.

Because there are so many days you come home to a “me” who has nothing left to give.

I’m physically and emotionally drained from the day-to-day demands of parenting three not-yet-independent-aged kids. I view your walk in the door as a relief that there is someone to share the parenting responsibilities, instead of a chance to show you how much I love that you’re back in my presence.

I know most days you are also probably worn down from the long commute and a packed day of meetings. But instead of trying to battle me for the “who had the toughest day” award, you choose to try to uplift me instead. You either ask how you can help or immediately take the kids in another room to open up space for me to have a chance to breathe.

Yet each day, it’s only the kids who make you feel missed. It’s only the kids who make you feel loved.

And that’s not fair to you.

But I promise you . . . 

If you were able to peel back the layers of exhaustion . . . you’d find a heart that absolutely adores you at a level I know it hasn’t forgotten in the midst of this complicated season of life.

It ADORES YOU.

As a husband. As a father. As a friend. As a teammate. As a MAN.

But I realize that I have been so caught up in the rediscovery of myself, that I have forgotten to remind you that I am on the road with you as you do the same.  I have forgotten to put more gas in the tank of our marriage, knowing that our feet have been nonstop on the parenting pedal.

But I have not forgotten how to love you.

Yes, this season of life is complicated . . . but our love is not, and I won’t let the layers of exhaustion bury that any longer.

Instead, when you open that door at the end of the day and send that favorite sound of ours into the air . . . it won’t just be the kids that will be fighting to get the first hug.

Brea Schmidt

​Brea Schmidt is a writer, photographer and mom advocate who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch.  She also owns the Ohio-based family photography business Photography by Brea.  When she isn't writing, photographing or Mom-ing her three kids under the age of five, you can usually find her listening to country music or aggressively cheering for her favorite sports teams.