At the time, I wasn't really sure what she meant, but as my family has increased in size, I can definitely relate now. By the time Jeff gets home from work, I have had three little people needing me all day. All day. Alice needs me for everything: food, comfort, cleanliness. Danny requires me to hold him quite frequently and to give him a lot of attention. And Jill notices everything I say and do and often wants my attention, too. I'm constantly being touched, kissed, grabbed, hugged, and squeezed. I hear a lot of whining, crying, and laughter. It's something of a sensory overload having three children, aged four and under. (It's wonderful though.)
So when 5:30 rolls around, I'm pretty exhausted. I consider myself amazing if dinner is waiting for him. Exceptional if the floor is swept and the table set. A goddess among women if none of my children are crying and the toy room is clean, too.
However, just as I want much more from my husband than just a paycheck in the bank every other week, my husband wants more from me than dinner on the table every evening.
But sometimes those wants and needs of husbands and wives get lost in the demands put upon mothers and fathers.
I have traveled a lot recently without Jeff. I went to Nebraska while he was in Zambia, and then I went out to Utah almost a week before him and stopped in Ohio, returning to Virginia about a week and half after he did.
When I am apart from Jeff, I often miss having my children's father around. An extra set of hands to help at dinner time. Another shoulder to cry on. Another pair of lips to kiss boo-boos. Another voice to read bedtime stories. A pair of arms for hugs. Someone else to take a turn when the crying and fighting gets to be too much.
(I cannot imagine being a single parent. You're amazing for doing it all—every minute of every day.)
There was one evening this trip, where Jeff's absence really struck me. We had spent the day driving across the country. Jeff's parents were off getting dinner for us at the hotel restaurant. Jill and Danny were running around in the grassy courtyard, playing tag. Alice was lying on a blanket on the grass, just cooing at the clouds. I sat in the early summer warmth and just enjoyed the moment. Everything was perfect. I needed nothing. And all of a sudden, I missed, deeply, my husband. Not my kids' dad, but my husband. And it was amazing. I didn't need him to break up a fight, or to take a crying baby, or to entertain Jill, or to clean up a mess. The kids were happy, and I was happy. I just missed him for him. Not for his help or because I was exhausted. Just simply because life is better when he's around even if he isn't doing anything but sitting next to me.
Do you know what I mean?
I need him for so many things: to help me with the kids, to keep our house running, to listen to my silly concerns, and to love me. But at that moment when all was right in my world, I just wanted him without any needs. And it was beautiful. I love him for more than what he does. I just love him for him.
At stake conference yesterday, a woman shared a quote from the movie Parental Guidance. (I am probably not quoting it perfectly, but here is the gist of it.)
Daughter: "Mom, why do you always take Dad's side?
Mother: "Because a husband is what is left after the children have gone."
Father's Day is coming up, and it's a holiday I fully support. But I think perhaps there should be a Husband's Day, too. Or a Spouse's Day.
I love you, Jeff! I'm so glad you're here when I need you, and I'm glad you're here when I don't need you but simply want you instead.
As I was looking through pictures to find one from when we first met, I found this gem. Jeff had an interesting technique when it came to wooing me. Not every man thinks of dropping a cake on the woman he's trying to date. :)