When my husband, Jake, gets home from work every day, he is usually met by two toddlers flailing their bodies about with wild excitement. Once the hugs and kisses are distributed, he is almost always asked the same question by our three-year-old, Lily: “Dad, will you throw me up in the air?”
“Yes,” he always says, “I would really like to do that.”
Jake works long hours. By the time he gets home most nights, he’s drained. His brain has worked long and hard, and I know that everything in him wants to collapse on the couch and not move.
In these moments, sometimes I ask him to carry a load of laundry down the stairs for me. Or start the dishwasher. Or change a diaper.
And in each of these moments, he always agrees willingly.
And in thinking about it recently, I realized I’ve never heard him use the phrase that so often goes through my own mind at the end of a long day: “It’s your turn.”
It’s easy to keep score in both marriage and parenting especially if you stay at home like me. Tallies of clothes washed, bathrooms cleaned, and floors mopped can add up in my head pretty quickly, and I’ve found that in these moments when I start to keep score, I’m tempted to relinquish all responsibilities to Jake as soon as he gets home by saying, “It’s your turn.”
But then I remember that he never says it. That even in his most exhausted moments, he swoops in and de-escalates a screaming toddler with his magical powers of reasoning and calm.
He’s always one step ahead of me really. Always reminding me what really matters in this life.
Time and time again, he wordlessly reminds me that the best thing I can give to my family is all that I have. My best.
Sometimes that means changing every single diaper in the span of a day or cleaning the bathroom without complaint even though I can’t remember the last time he did. Sometimes it means waking up early with the girls again so he can sleep in or taking the trash out during a busy week even though, technically, it’s “his job.”
And here’s what I’ve learned: When I stop keeping scores and mental tallies in my head, it’s not so hard to do all the things I have to do. It’s what I have to give, and it’s always worth it.
And so, here’s to the endless numbers of meals to be cooked, floors to be vacuumed, and children to be bathed. To the easy days, the bang-your-head-against-a-wall days, and to the nights of celebrating that you made it through another day together.
Which reminds me: Jake, it’s your turn to pick out the Redbox.