Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Better Wife

(I found this post unpublished in a folder, written in early November.  I'm not sure why I never put it up, but here it is.)

These past few weeks have been tricky.  A small seed of discontent leads to large torrents of self pity and before I know it I felt gridlocked in anger.  He'd shake his head and I'd think "he doesn't know me at all."

This week spun on, so much work to be done and all of it seemed so insurmountable.  A visit of family from far away in the cards, yes, and costumes to be made and food to be cooked and a house to clean.  Much to do.  So my perspective began the slow slide, warping.

I forgot it all that night.

Walking in from the cold into those bright hospital lights for the third time that.  Passing the night guard with a nod, then taking an elevator, down the long hall, into a waiting room.

In this hospital, I've greeted 3 babies. In this hospital, I've said goodbye to two Grandfathers.  I know these rooms well, yet tonight they look, feel, different.

I'd forgotten my bible.  My knitting, too, sitting at home where I left five children with a pregnant sister.

Just me and the bag of personal items I'd collected - toothbrush, socks, pajamas.

An old man in the corner flicks the tv from one sports channel to another and then back again.  I leafed through a magazine briefly, not seeing the images in front of me.

All I could see were those eyes.

His.  In them I could see what I see in the eyes of my boys when they are scared, or worried, or anxious.  He chewed the inside of his lip, an involuntary sign to me that, for all the bravado, he's scared.

I leaned in to kiss him and he whispered "I love you."

I read once a woman writing about the first year of marriage.  She thought she could say anything and never hurt her husband.  How having boys changed all that for her when she realized that inside every man is a little boy.  With feelings and fears.  Hiding in that 6'3" build, a little boy.

I remembered in that moment

I murmured back "I love you, too."

A Catholic hospital.  Crosses everywhere, and little chapels here and there.  Outside, gardens with images of saints.  Places to think.  Places to pray.  I stay in my stiff armchair and close my eyes tight. How does one love a man?  How does a selfish woman such as I become a better wife?

My eyes flew open when it came to me and I thought yes, this just might be it.  Remembered how I cupped Joboy's little chin, looked deep in those eyes and talked gently with him.  Quiet kindness.  How I held Ben tight and told him over and over how much I loved him and how proud I was of him.  How I told Peter he was my sweet boy.

Maybe loving a man is not much more than loving a boy.  Gently.  Kindly.  Sweetly.  With understanding that he's a person, just as I am.  Failings and flaws and feelings and foibles, all wrapped up in parcel of unique personhood.

Maybe to love a man is to open arms, and heart, wide.

Its midnight when the nurse takes me back and his eyes barely open when he hears my voice.  I stroke his pale face and whisper - "I love you, I'm proud of you.  You did a great job."

A flicker of a smile as he falls asleep and I slip away into the night.

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  1. Beautiful post.
    Sometimes it just doesn't occur to us to say the simplest things to the biggest guys in our lives.

  2. I'm glad you posted this; I've been trying to think of ways to love my husband more. We had our first baby 4months ago, and for all the love I lavish on our daughter, I wasn't giving enough to him!
    The simplest of gestures delights him- a hug, a cup of tea...men aren't so difficult to please as we think. :)

  3. Oh Lydia...this was simply beautiful...as usual! We women truly make it so difficult, but it's not as difficult to love as we thought!

  4. wow. this is what I needed to hear. thank you.

  5. Lydia--Your gift of words was well spent. Thank you.

  6. Thanks Lydia for putting your intimate thoughts into words. For sharing so beautifully what we Wives, Moms, Daughters, Sisters, Friends need to hear. God has blessed us all thru you.

  7. This post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you, thank you for publishing it.


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