I was putting the final touches on dinner and had my toddler in the bathtub when I called to my other daughters with the instructions to pick up their toys.
“Pick these toys up. Hurry up before your Daddy gets home.”
As I said this last part I laughed to myself, and it caused me to contemplate why I did things the way I did. I mean, was I trying to hide from my husband how chaotic and messy it could be around here? Nah. He knew it got crazy.
Did I feel like it was my job as a “mostly” stay-at-home mom to keep the house spotless?!
Well, first off, spotless was kind of a stretch when it came to housework with little kids around. Secondly, I knew my spouse certainly didn’t expect that of me. He understood the responsibilities I took care of on the home front, and he had even mentioned to me more than once that it wasn’t necessary for me to prepare a home-cooked meal every night. Of course, to that I had answered him that I cooked for us because I enjoyed it. And I guess this was much the same.
I strived to have a clean house for my husband when he came home because that was one of the ways I showed him I loved him. Just like the meatloaf he liked, having the house tidy was a way I honored him, much like he honored me. I knew personally that after a long day at work at the hospital I liked to come home to an ordered (or semi, anyway) environment. A clean house relaxed me, and it let me feel like I could fully kick my feet up and rest. I knew this type of organization gave him peace also; so a picked up living room and hot meal were simply actions I provided to show him that I cared beyond my mere words saying that I did.
That, to me, was part of a loving relationship. It was doing things for someone else, not because you had to, but because you loved to do it. For them. It meant putting forth a bit more effort, even if you didn’t always feel like it, not out of obligation, but out of a desire to show your love in action. It wasn’t a competition of who worked harder, or whose turn it was. It wasn’t trying to outdo the other, and it wasn’t showing how much each one could do. It was just love. When you loved someone you considered what made their life a little bit easier, and then you did those things.
As I bathed my toddler while dinner sat warming in the oven, I knew I didn’t rush to clean the living room out of obligation or some sense of responsibility. I didn’t keep things orderly because he worked out of the home more than me. We both knew that our collective days were long and hard. No, I did it just because it was something I could do. I couldn’t control how his day went away from home, but when he entered that door I could offer him love, peace, and happiness. Heck, even with a messy house (which did happen much of the time) I could offer him those things! But if there was something I could do to make his end of day a bit more enjoyable, I went for it. Not because he expected it or because I had to. It was simply a language of love.