I Lost My Heart

Last night the girls and I spent a few hours running errands. Sienna had a late doctor’s appointment and afterward we went to Target to get diapers and valentines for her class party and then ran over to Trader Joe’s to get some groceries. When we got home the Ogre disappeared into the study with the girls while I fed Liam on the couch.

I was a little irritated; we’re both trying to spend less time in front of the computer and more time in the living room with our kids, so it was no small self-sacrifice for me to plop down on the couch with the baby instead of whisking him off to the study to surf the internet and troll facebook while I fed him. After Liam ate, the Ogre and the girls were still in the study, so I made my cranky way back there.

I rounded the corner to see the man I married, who hardly ever sings and is a bit self-conscious about it, serenading his daughters (accompanied by Steve Earle) with “Galway Girl”. The girls were both cuddled up in his lap and when I came into the room he looked over their heads at me, still smiling, but his smile changed a little. His song was for me, then, and the fifteen seconds while he held my gaze and sang to me over our children’s heads were some of the most tender we’ve had in recent memory.

It can be exhausting to weather the storm of parenting. We’re buffeted on all sides by the needs of three little people, financial concerns, the Ogre’s teaching and studying, the daily grind of housework. Too often we spend the few snatches of time we have alone together asking things of each other. “Can you do this more…can you please stop doing that…can you help me with x, y or z.” It isn’t often that we sit down together and just enjoy each other’s company. It isn’t often that we take time to remember that we actually like each other, that we can make each other laugh, that little things like singing can be a salve to each others’ weary souls.

This morning I was thinking back over that brief moment and I realized that I’m profoundly grateful for one thing: I kept my mouth shut.

I was stomping back to the study, irritated that he had plopped down in front of the computer when we are both making an effort not to do that. Generally when I’m irritated I begin my rant before I even make eye contact with the Ogre. It wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary for me to enter the room saying, “I really wish you would have stayed out in the living room like we said we’d do,” the baby on one hip, annoyance written all over my face. But I didn’t. I kept my mouth shut, and in return I got a brief, lovely moment of peace and unity with my husband.

I wonder how many moments like that I’ve missed in my crusade to make sure that the Ogre knows exactly how annoyed I am when he does something wrong. I wonder how much more peaceful our lives would be if, instead of “reminding” him that he’s not absolutely perfect, I spent more time with my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open. I wonder what our home would look like if, instead of looking for things the Ogre doesn’t do right, I spend my time looking for all the little things he does do, things like putting the dishes away at night because he knows I hate waking up to a messy kitchen, or always changing the cat’s litter because he knows I hate doing it.

Sometimes the quest to die to self and become a better wife and mother can get discouraging. It seems that everywhere I look I find things that need to change, and the more I change, the more I realize how far I have to go. But it’s little moments like last night, moments when I glimpse the way we could be if, for instance, I learned to keep my mouth shut more often, that give me hope. All these little blows to my pride pale in comparison to the vision of the joyful, peaceful home the Ogre could come home to at night if, instead of welcoming him with accusations and annoyance, I welcomed him home with love and gratitude. 

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04738076740941616678 Rebecca

    "Keep my mouth shut and my ears open" – if only I could learn this lesson that sounds so simple, yet seems so difficult in practice. Thank-you for the reminder that it is well worth it.

  • http://blueberriesforme.wordpress.com Jackie

    Beautifully written! Which reminds me, I should probably just do the dishes instead of waiting to see if he'll do them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12557248434888642114 Melanie B

    Sweet! I struggle with that too.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09942928659520676271 JoAnna

    ditto Rebecca.

  • http://txnarmywife.livejournal.com/ txnarmywife

    Beautiful post – one that I can learn a lot from.I came across your blog while blog-hopping during nap time and realized that I'm pretty sure I had classes with your husband. I graduated from UD in '03 with a degree in English. What a small world!

  • Anonymous

    One of the greatest lessons of marriage (at least for a woman) is to learn to biteyour tongue. So, so hard sometimes. Blessed are the meek doesn't mean those who are weak, but those who hold back their strength for the sake of others. That takes the strength of will to hold back those strong passions and emotions and keep them in check. Imagine how powerful Christ really was, but how he held that all back so man could freely do with him as they wished. That is what we need to do as wives – not be dishrags, but let the free will of our husbands have space to choose to do things because of love, not because of a tongue lashing. Not to say we shouldn't communicate our needs, and all, but I think you get my drift?Love, as always,Lisa

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15778596300503008018 J M Yaceczko

    yea!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09549079808635929848 Kari Palmeri

    This is by far the best marriage advise to give to anyone. Learn to keep your mouth shut and to pick your battles! I love what Lisa just said "Blessed are the meek doesn't mean those who are weak, but those who hold back their strength for the sake of others." What a great quote! Great blog once again. :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06164970035946546827 Mary Poppins NOT

    Awesome!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07632005486245515873 Calah

    Thank you all for your comments! And Txnarmywife-whoa! It is a small world. Very small. That's funny.