Every Tuesday my husband Dave has the day off and takes over the domestic reigns. This includes caring for our daughter Lila. I get to venture out to my part-time job. Last Tuesday I came home to a disheveled house and a frazzled husband. There are several things that needed to be done around the house and not one of them was done. I began to query him on his day.
I got the sense that he wanted some praise for a job well done. He accurately got the sense that I was disappointed. My mind began to run away with me. “What is this, the track meet at the Special Olympics?” I thought. Do I need to have volunteers stationed periodically throughout the house to encourage, praise and occasionally redirect him? I forgot to stop at the gold medal store on the way home from work today.
I took a deep breath and went into the bedroom to change out of my work clothes. I tried to refocus. I thought of a few weeks ago when I entered our house. No one heard me come in because the stereo was blaring Stevie Wonder. My husband was holding our daughter in his arms, his sunglasses on, dancing and singing to her. I can only assume he was doing an impersonation of Stevie for Lila. Which is important in case she ever bumps into him; she can now recognize Mr. Wonder.
I began to think of the race we had recently run together. The marathon of the adoption process over the past year. There were times when we coached each other back onto the course. I realized that even if we didn’t win the race, I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate. When we picked up our daughter in Houston and flew home with her three weeks later, there was a group of friends and family to cheer for us at our homecoming.
Building a family isn’t about giving in kind; it’s about giving everything and hoping for the best. So Dave doesn’t do things the way I do. Good. He has a jazzier parenting style. On my days off, I run around the house trying to get things done while Lila plays. Sure my to-do list got shorter, but there are always new chores waiting to be added to the list.
Wouldn’t I like it if someone praised me and treated me like everything I did was wonderful? I easily do that with Lila. At four months old, everything she does is adorable. She belches like a teenage boy, and I sweetly tell her what a good one it was. I silence my bratty child inside who says it isn’t fair how I get more done on my days home. I walk over to my husband and tell him what a great job he did. Even if you don’t win a medal, we all at least deserve the occasional cheerleader.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.