I read in all my How To Be A Good Little Christian Wife books that guys are loved through food, sex, and words of affirmation.
I had all the intentions of being the best wife ever. Truly. There were big plans that went like this: All the home-cooked meals! All the affirming words! All the sex! I don’t think it will take you long to guess how this played out as a young bride.
All the food! I have to make food? AGAIN? Dear God, WHY?! I JUST did that four hours ago! ALL THE SHOUTING CAPS, ALL THE EXCLAMATION MARKS!
All the good words! You know what I like more than affirming words for my dear Hub-cakes? Being RIGHT! Drawing a big, pronounced, verbal map to show Nate exactly how right I am. Torch of truth, goddess of better! I am so damn smart.
All the sex! Do we even need to lift the all-the-sex rock? I think we all know the none-the-sex, then some-the-sex, then redeem-and-relearn-the-sex story that sits under there.
We hit our ten year anniversary this summer and part of me felt like a failure at this whole wife gig I’ve been given. I don’t know when I let my name get put on the 1950’s Hannah Homemaker list of shoulds but I’m trying to get it off so I can honor the Creator for who I actually am by being that person fully, wholly, unapologetically in our marriage.
The fact that I couldn’t keep up with dishes and paper piles on the dining table pre-kids should have been a warning. Lately I found myself apologizing a lot to Nate via jokes highlighting my ineptitude as a wife/mother/human being on the planet, as if knowing where my freaking sunglasses were the first trip to the car would somehow earn me back that Whole Person tiara and Best Wife sash. I’m not saying the way I make a shopping list of essentials I forgot on the way home from the store doesn’t totally boggle my husband’s mind. But he isn’t going for my self-deprecating jokes disguised as apologies for my general existence.
His response? “Stop saying I don’t want you! All those things are what make me love you. I have no clue how you do life because I can’t do it that way, but I love all those things that make you, you! So enough.”
I can’t help but wonder if we’re tripping over all these unnecessary apologies of ourselves taking up space in this world and getting so detoured down the avenues of our Should Be lists that we are missing the invitation of the freedom to live. If, perhaps, we are eliciting a similar response from THE one who created us this way. The voices of self-doubt and self-suppression are always lurking in the shadows. The ones that remind us “a real wife does_____” and “a real mom doesn’t _____”.
You know the bigger longing in my heart? To BE the art of God. To be fully known by the Creator and fully know the Creator in return. To fully know and be known by my husband, my kids. There is no list for this. There is only us in the real mix-matched way we’ve been made and vowed to loom a life together.
Tonight my role as a good wife and mom is letting my husband bake chicken apple sandwiches for dinner, kiss three little forehead hairlines holding the scent of earth and bubble-gum shampoo goodnight and come sit beside the Pacific Beach pier with a playlist and a pen.
As a recovering perfectionist (as I’m assuming we all are here) this simple act of honoring myself, my desire to write, my cosmic call to create is a giant hurdle. Good moms tuck their kids in every night, right? It’s hard for me to leave with a two year old clinging to my leg. Torturous, in fact. Husband peels her away, puts car keys in my hands and says “Go. You have writing practice tonight.”
It is not a daily activity, but it is a weekly flag in our family life. This is the new litmus test of being that good wife, that good mom. Am I revealing to my husband and children who I am? Am I creating opportunities to allow this to happen? Am I revealing to my kids who they are? Am I creating opportunities for this to happen?
If I tell them they are creative beings designed by THE Creator of the Universe to be wholly and unapologetically them, they might take it, sink it into their heart, and treasure it forever. But if I LIVE it? They will have that model. The how-to’s will be a little less mysterious and the only mystery left will be the glory that occurs when space is created to do the creating. It will be as second nature as tacos on a Tuesday and running barefoot through Bermuda grass. The innate. The heartbeat. The what we do without giving it a second thought.
Maybe, just maybe they will do the big brave of taking that treasure hidden deep in their heart and holding it up for others to see. But it begins with me. Always. It begins with us.