By right-hand man, I actually mean my man’s right hand. Last week, a series of unfortunate events in the garage involving our bbq/smoker tipping over, spilling hot, smoking pellets everywhere culminated in 2 displaced fractures in my husbands right hand. As I write this post, I am sitting in the lobby of a surgical center while he is on the operating table, having screws and wires placed to hold the bones together.
Several people have asked me if I’m frustrated that he isn’t able to help a whole lot at the moment. Honestly, I was at first. But this last week has surprised me. Maybe it’s because busy hands make a happy heart, or maybe it’s because I’m a control freak, but I have felt unusually content for the last 8 days. Even though I’ve been buzzing around the house trying to keep up on the never ending list of things that need to be accomplished before bedtime, my husband has been forced to slow down.
Our routine for the last 4 months since the birth of our son has consisted of me doing what I can to maintain some order and sanity in our house until he gets home, at which point he’d rush around to do his usual tasks and then promptly have a baby or a toddler handed to him. Divide and conquer has been our method for weeks and weeks. That approach cuts my work load in half, but frankly it’s very isolating. “Hey, can you watch them for a minute while I go do XYZ, then it’ll be your turn..” We’ve basically been coworkers communicating at shift change.
I’ve spent many an evening wishing that he would do more, help more, do something that would make me feel validated in the work I do everyday. But he WAS doing all of those things. He is an incredibly helpful spouse and has just as much on his plate as I do, so why would I feel this way? And why on EARTH have I felt better since he’s been unable to do the usual things he does?
The shift in our household dawned on me the other night while he was lying on the floor with our baby. Matt was talking to him and our baby was mimicking the sounds and grabbing at his face. His current lack of ability to help me check items off the to-do list has forced him to just be. To just spend time with our tiny little people reading books, rolling a ball down the hallway, talking for the tenth time about the bird our toddler saw outside this morning.
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It’s made time for us to sit and talk about our day and what’s been going on in our minds lately. In the trenches of our parenting duties, we’ve been failing at genuine, effective communication. Failed to look each other in the eye and say “thank you” for all of the things you do everyday. Failed to take a moment to soak in the fact that we have been fortunate enough to create these two amazing little human beings who we’ve been charged with raising into good, kind, respectful adults.
It doesn’t matter that his hand is broken. What does matter is that our family is healthy, fed, warm, dry. What matters is that our babies look back at their childhood and remember us looking them in the eye, getting down on the floor to play with them, taking an extra minute to provide a thoughtful response to the never ending questions. They don’t care that bath time happens promptly at 7:00pm. But they absolutely notice if we give each other a hug when dad comes home from work, or if we talk to each other over dinner instead of barking orders at one another.
Yes, there’s some extra weight on my shoulders right now. But the world keeps turning. A little more organization and better time management has actually taught me that there are better ways of doing things, especially if it means that we can all slow down together once a day. Even on the nights where our house feels like it’s imploding in on itself, I hope we can look at each other with the smirk that says “what the h$@! did we get ourselves into?!” and continue to do our best.
Now, ask me how I feel about solo kiddo duty 6 weeks from now and my tune might be a little different. (Especially once I return to work in a few weeks.) But for the moment, I’m going to relish in this new something we’ve got going on, and take it as a gentle reminder that sometimes even (literally) painful change can deliver some pretty nice and unexpected side affects.