For day 353, I told you I would watch the girls for the day while you did whatever you wanted (I made sure to tell you ahead of time). I expected you to drive to your mom’s to go shopping or to read a book in your room for hours or to go out with one of your friends or a combination of these. Instead, you said you didn’t want the day away, but wanted a few hours alone to get some rest. I tried to convince you to take the whole day, but you insisted that you didn’t want it. So, what could I do but honor your request? I watched the girls while you took a few hours for yourself to get all rested up. These times away should be a regular occurrence!
I came home from work on day 301 and you were so exhausted and frustrated from taking care of our dear little ones that I immediately suggested that you go to Starbucks with a Nancy Drew novel for a few hours. You said you were too tired to do even that, but asked if you could take your break in our room. That sounded fine to me. So you lay on your bed and solved the mystery of the whistling bagpipes with your dear friend Nancy while I watched the kids and made dinner.
365 Acts of Love‘s really taught me to look out for your needs and desires and to meet them. Of course, recognizing that you needed a break that day didn’t require Sherlockean powers of perception. Still, before 365 I probably would’ve thought something like this:
She seems pretty tired. I would give her a break, but I just got home from work and I really need to sit down for a while. Maybe I’ll watch the kids in the living room while she makes dinner.
Of course, “watching the kids in the living room” would’ve involved barricading them in the room so that I could sprawl out on the couch with a book.
Sometimes, getting you to take a break from our kids is like getting a cat to take a bath: neither happens without a struggle. On day 51, I tried to give you some time to relax without them but you wanted us to all go out together. That was fine, but breaks are good on occasion. Well, last night, I strongly encouraged you to take one.
When I came home from work, I asked you if you wanted to go read at Starbucks while I watched the kids for a while. Even though you thought it was a great idea and you hugged me for suggesting it, you said, “That’d be fun, but not tonight.” After much conversation, you agreed to staying home and doing something, while I took the girls out somewhere. Before we went out, I looked after the kids while you took a shower. (An uninterrupted shower is actually a big deal when you have three kids under 5.) You came down from your shower and said “Wow, that break was great. Why don’t we all stay together tonight?” “I think you really need this, honey,” I said “You’re right, I do. Okay, take the girls out.” But even as I walked out the door with our kids, you asked if I could leave just one. Eventually, though, I made it out the door with all three kids. We bought soft serve ice cream and hung out. After about an hour, we came home. You loved your break! You made yourself some popcorn and read from Kipling’s The Jungle Book. You looked refreshed.
Later that night, I tried some funny business–I asked you if you’d do the dishes for me, with this thought in my head “Certainly she’ll do it. Look what I did for her earlier.” You said you’d do them, but that you couldn’t get to them until the morning (which was true). “I guess I’ll do them,” I said. As I washed the dishes, I struggled to gain the right perspective on the matter. I know that I should give without expecting to receive, and that by expecting something from you in return, my act wasn’t completely selfless. I pray that God makes me willing to give you everything, even my life, without expecting anything from you in return. I think that the key to loving you in that way is being most satisfied in God (see day 49).
Yesterday when I came home from work I was exhausted. When I asked you if I could take a nap, you said yes. But, you looked exhausted as well. So, I let you take a nap while I watched the kids and cleaned up. I think giving you a break is the act I’ve done most frequently, but it’s because that’s been your most pressing need.