Too Busy to Make Time for Daddy
“Mom! Justin’s stinky,” my 4-year-old notifies me while covering his nose and cowering in a corner. I wonder why my own lazy nose has somehow lost its acuteness; still, I hurry away from dinner preparations dimly aware that the potatoes are boiling over. Not only has my 2–year-old produced “treasures” in his diaper, but he also has smuggled a chocolate–covered granola bar into the bathroom, a feat that involves climbing up the pantry shelf like a barefoot bandit and reaching into the box. How did I not notice that? I watch now as my 2–year–old smears his grimy fingers across the never–clean bathroom mirror, and it barely bothers me. I am certain dinner will be late, the hamburger potentially burnt, and my baby is probably pillaging the garbage can for scraps to eat. It’s at this moment that it happens: the expected sound of keys in our back door, notice that my husband Sheldon has indeed arrived.
When I was first married I used to listen for those sounds with perfect anticipation, excitement fluttering in my chest, but now … I often find myself hoping, wishing, praying that he would be a little late so that I can fold that atrocious pile of laundry draped over the living room couch and put my head on straight. Did I even brush my hair today?
It’s a subtle change when a wife goes from enfolding her man in a warm hug the very instant he walks in the door to instead hiding in the bathroom trying to quickly give her hair a brushing and apply some lipstick. Some would say this distinction is part of motherhood. I’m not sure when the severe symptoms began, but like so many mothers I noticed that amidst my scattered state of mind and feeling of failure, there was something new growing–apathy, disregard, and resentment. I found myself actually glancing at my briefcase–toting hero, with annoyance, as I thought to myself: “Great. Someone else who has expectations.”
“I’ve had those moments,” many moms admit, and usually the discussion contains statements like “if he helped me more around the house” or “if he wasn’t always in front of the TV …” I, too, have been forced to ask myself, Does my husband really want to come home to a frustrated wife or does he want to come home to a wife who’s sweet and pleasant? With horror, I have been reminded of my own parents’ marriage and my mom’s exuberance on the nights when my father stayed at work late. In every other respect she was meticulous, homeschooling my sister and me with endless energy and dedication. However, the lack of investment in her marriage resulted in tragedy. Now she is divorced with no intact home for the grandkids to visit. That picture has always been one I wished to avoid.
The importance of “balanced investment” cannot be overstated to wives like me who are scurrying around with barely a chance to eat. Balanced investment describes a conscious determination to carefully fulfill the three roles of house-maker, mother, and wife. Often I’ve found myself viewing these expectations like a shopping list: “Once I’ve got the kids to bed then I’ll clean the house, and once that’s done then I’ll spend time with my husband.” Instead, wives must see their three roles as a complete whole, interacting with and inseparable from each other. Being a great mother includes leaving the dinner dishes for a bit longer than intended to give Daddy a foot massage. This requires deliberate flexibility, since by nature we want to finish the task at hand. A mother will easily leave the boiling potatoes to change a diaper, but will she leave the stir–fry to give her man a much–deserved hug?
The writer Charles Lamb pointed out that our “love grows by giving.” Some days it feels like giving is truly all I do. The level of unselfishness at which I am expected to operate would give me super hero status, if anyone bothered to notice. Sometimes by the end of the day I am just tired of giving, and since my husband is not going to throw himself on the floor screaming if he’s ignored, when it comes to short-cuts, my husband is the obvious choice.
I must state that a wife’s ability to invest in a balanced way is entirely dependent upon her relationship with the Lord. Our men cannot refuel us; only God can give us the patience and peace that we need. God’s Word always is the foundation for a healthy mindset and underlies our ability to love “as He first loved us.” It is important to realize that when our husbands walk in the door, we must not instantly start to calculate the ways they can give to us but rather what we can give them. If I haven’t spent time with God during the day, I am more likely to fail.
The always-exhausted mother can fool herself into thinking that she doesn’t need her man. She can treat him with disdain, scorn, and indignation. However, truthfully, making time for one’s husband is really taking time for one’s self. As Proverbs 14 states so profoundly, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish woman plucketh it down with her hands.”
Building one’s marriage affects our outlook on life. A happy marriage does make the sun shine brighter, the kitchen seem cleaner, the kids seem quieter, and God’s way more beautiful. I mustn’t love my children so much that I forget to be a wife. Many times I’ve thought to myself, “If I just get this done first …,” but I have learned that the tower of grimy dishes and the haystack of dirty laundry will … wait.
Christina Rogers is the mother of three beautiful children and has written for The Evangelical Christian, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, and Lifetimes Magazine (UK). She has been interviewed on the radio in the United States, Britain, and Canada and is the author of a new book on purity, Leave Dating Behind: A Road Map to Marriage.