Some husbands and fathers spend their days doing the most routine, predictable, day-to-day tasks.
Starting the coffeemaker in the morning. Taking the kids to school a few days a week. Texting your wife when you are on your way home from work. Letting her know if you’ll be late for some reason. Sliding down the slide with the toddler. Playing catch in the backyard. Seeing your wife struggle to fold the fitted sheet alone, and without pause, wordlessly helping her with the task (and the rest of the laundry pile). Going to church as a family, even if just to assist in shuffling the baby from one hip to the other. Paying attention to what’s coming up on the calendar. Tackling the dishes while she goes through the bedtime routine, so you can both be done with the chores when the kids are finally asleep. Choosing her every day.
Some take it a bit further.
Going to the grocery store and taking the kids so she’ll have a little break. Bringing her a snack from the gas station (because even if she says she doesn’t, she wants a snack). Sharing a picture of her on her birthday with a note to the world about how she completes you and makes your life wonderful. Sending flowers on a random Tuesday. Touting her latest accomplishment and proclaiming that she’s your better half. Quietly nominating her for a Mom of the Year contest. Scheduling babysitters, making date nights a priority, even going on weekend getaways to relax and reconnect. Remembering that before she was Mom, she was the girl you fell in love with … and reminding her of that.
Is this all part of the highlight reel? The stuff we put out into the universe to make it seem like our lives are great and happy and marriage is wonderful? Sure. I’m sure it is.
When all these mundane, normal, life things stop happening? When you’re late 4 days out of 5 without a word of acknowledgment? When you would rather go to the bar to watch a football game instead of coming home to your family? When you roll your eyes as she tells you her plans? When you miss her tears because you’re no longer paying attention? And, worst of all, when your children start to notice?
There’s not even a highlight reel left to pick from anymore. Each image on the reel becomes tinted with disdain and scowls and a general sense of “He’d rather be anywhere but here.” The highlight reels of others really start to bring out the shadows in her own life. It’s hard to see everyone else happy. It’s hard for her to watch the beautiful lives of others unfold around her while she carefully bundles up the broken pieces of what’s left of hers, cradling them close and wishing she had more to show for it all.
The highlights start to hurt … but they also give hope.
Guys, you’re out there setting examples for your own children of what it looks like to be a good husband and father. You are showing your daughters the type of man they deserve to marry. You are showing your sons the type of man they can, and should, grow up to be.
You’re crafting the future, right there in your own home, in each and every one of those seemingly trivial ways. Keep doing it, okay? The little things really are the big things, you know.
Take the candid pictures of her and the kids. Listen intently she tells you her dreams – no matter how far-fetched they may be. Shout from the rooftops that you are perpetually proud of her. Send her the silly meme, hold her hand in the car, surprise her with her favorite treat. Introduce her by name and compliment her publicly. Refer to her as your bride even after 15 years of marriage. Tell her she looks beautiful even when she doesn’t believe you or tells you to stop.
Keep showing up.
Kiss her goodnight each and every night – whether you had a rough day together, or one for the books. Show up.
Do it, consistently.
Before it’s too late.