Romance. Ah, yes. Don’t we love the sound and the meaning of that word! Flowers and being loved. Feeling important and invigorated. Experiencing exhilaration and ecstasy. I relish it all.
We celebrated our 29th last weekend (December 8) and, as Dave told Sarah Beth on Saturday, “There’s not going to be a whole lot of fireworks around this place this weekend!”
But I experienced romance, and it’s spelled differently than r-o-m-a-n-c-e. This different-kind-of-romance one is spelled: commitment.
Dave came in from work at three o’clock on Friday. I was happy to see him show up that early because he was babysitting that evening while I went to a Christmas dinner.
I’d been busy all day, and our little foster kids were constantly underfoot. I was glad for the chance of a reprieve and thought I’d have more time to get some things done – until, that is, I learned he’d come in because he wasn’t feeling well.
He spent the extra time in the recliner, and I provided Motrin and water since there was no iced tea in the house (Woe is me!)
He can sleep through anything, so I sent the munchkins into the living room where his sleeping presence made them feel safe enough to be in a different room than mine. I even got the kitchen floor mopped before I headed to the shower.
I worried about him a little because his chest was hurting as well as his head, but my troops in other cities were on standby to call and check on their father and I knew they’d let me know if there was cause for concern. So I went and had a great evening of good food and festivities.
Three hours later, they were standing at the door waiting for me when I got home: the two munchkins and their padre.
He had fed and bathed them and tidied the kitchen. All that was left to do was to give bedtime medications and breathing treatments, and they were off to bed.
I tucked my babies and my man in and came back downstairs to finish some proofing for a family book.
When my eyes could no longer stay open, I headed upstairs for bed but ended up spending most of the night in the bathroom.
By morning, I knew the sewer system in the house was in fine working order since I’d been through more toilet paper than any person ought to go through in a week. I was keenly aware I’d never survive the day without help.
So when my man crawled out of bed, I am certain I asked him if, since he wasn’t feeling well, he’d be hanging around the house for a while. I am just as certain that he said he was.
So I went back to sleep, comforted that I wouldn’t be on my own.
That is why I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t getting Little Nugget when the toddler woke up at 7:30 AM. Looking out the bedroom window, my cloudy brain finally realized that no truck in the driveway meant no man was in the house.
I moped my dehydrated body out of bed and managed to heave the 28-pound toddler out of his crib, change his diaper, and put clothes on him, all the while clutching my swollen abdomen.
Then I called Dave.
“I thought you said you were hanging out here this morning,” I complained.
“Nope, I’m at work. I told you I was going to work.”
I didn’t question the fact that he needed to be at work. He’d taken some time off in the past weeks and was playing catch-up.
We also had dinner plans that evening with two other couples and he’d be coming in early for that. I just questioned how I could have misunderstood his reply.
“Well, I was sure you said you’d be here this morning. I’m so sick and all we have is ginger ale. You know how I hate ginger ale,” I whined.
I’m really good at hinting at my needs, hoping he’ll catch on and supply them because he cares. He’d as soon have me tell him what I want than to try to figure it out himself.
But this time he didn’t have to figure it out. He knew what to do.
“I’ll bring you some Sprite,” he assured me.
By the time Dave got home, I’d managed to give breathing treatments and antibiotics to both kids. Plus, my foggy brain had remembered Miralax and probiotics for Little Miss and Zyrtec and probiotics for the little guy. I was struggling on toward breakfast when Dave got there with two 2-liters of Sprite Zero.
When we are sick, Dave and I respond differently.
I want to be downstairs where I can hear the sounds of my family.
He wants to crawl under the house and be left alone. If he survives, he’ll come back. If he doesn’t, he will have gone to be with Jesus, which is where, some days, he’d like to be anyhow. So for him, it’s a win-win situation.
Even though we both understand each other’s love language of “when I’m sick,” we tend to try to treat the other one the way we would like to be treated.
Dave shooed me off as he scrambled eggs and fixed toast for the kids.
I made one more trip to the bathroom, fixed my Sprite/grape juice drink-on-ice with insulated cup/lid/straw, and headed to the love seat recliner in the living room. Burrowing under a thick cover, I shivered for a while until all parts and limbs and the chair were warm, and fell asleep.
Once Little Miss climbed up next to me on the recliner. She was all set to cuddle up, but Dave sent her away.
I wanted to tell him it was okay – that I didn’t mind. But I knew she’d be better off without snuggling with my germs, and I was too tired to talk, so I just went back to sleep.
From time to time I woke up and heard the sounds of family: children playing and laughing, Dave scolding, Little Nugget on the potty chair, applause from Dave for accomplishment, more laughter, and some singing, and I’d fall back asleep.
Once I woke up and smelled Mr. Clean. I heard water being wrung from a rag and wondered what he was cleaning. Sometimes I can feel defensive if Dave cleans up in my department, as though I don’t do it well enough for him.
This time I was too sick to care, so I went back to sleep. But then I’d wake up and smell that smell, and I’d wonder what he was doing.
It can’t be the ceiling fans, I thought. We just did those two weeks ago. It can’t be the kitchen floor. I mopped it yesterday.
It didn’t matter and even though I still wondered, I didn’t have the energy to care, so I went back to sleep.
I woke up to Dave telling me he was taking the kids to town with him. I offered to keep Little Miss but he said “no,” and headed out the door.
I was too tired to argue, and I went back to sleep.
He bought the roses, not because I was sick, but because our anniversary was on the morrow and we don’t shop on Sunday.
I heard the kitchen drawer open and though I heard the cutting from scissors, I didn’t think about roses and how he always feeds them with the stuff the florist sends and uses a scissors to cut open the packet. I heard more water running and being poured, but it never occurred to me that he might be watering roses he had bought for me.
I just went back to sleep.
Then this man tucked Little Nugget into bed and left Little Miss in the room with me after telling her to take a nap. He told me he was heading back to work, and I convinced Little Miss to get a pillow and blanket.
Soon she was asleep, so I went back to sleep.
We haven’t done a lot of hugging and kissing the past few days because we were busy – and tired – and sick.
We talked about our anniversary coming up and agreed we’d celebrate later because the weekend was already full. As it turned out, I would not have been up to any celebration or romantic kissing.
Yet I did get hugged and kissed – in a different way.
Snuggling under the blanket and hearing the sounds of life and home and family in the background while I slept was one big, massive I-care-about-you hug.
Having not one, but two 2-liters of diet soda at my disposal was one big smooch of a kiss.
I asked him later about the mop bucket and dirty rag in the bathroom. He said he had mopped the kitchen floor. Yes, he knew I had mopped it the day before. Between his work shoes and my youngest (Butch’s) running shoes, it seems I am always sweeping and mopping.
But he’d seen the tracks, so he got down on his hands and knees and mopped the floor while I slept. Yet when I asked him about it and expressed thanks, he acted like it really wasn’t a big deal.
Later that evening Dave headed up to bed. I was still asleep in the recliner and kept telling myself to get up and put sheets on our already-stripped bed. I needn’t have worried. He got sheets out of the closet and made the bed. When I finally woke up enough to head upstairs, he was snuggled down in a freshly-made bed.
How nice it was to snuggle in next to him after being cared for all day long.
When it comes to romance, I really do like flowers – and going on a date with my man or spending the night away.
I enjoy spending time with him, entwining hands.
I cherish the playful tweaks he gives me when no one is watching, the way he can read my face and know how I’m feeling.
I like feeling special.
I like being cherished.
I really do like being loved.
When it comes to romance, I can hardly think of a way to feel more special, cherished and loved than to be sent to rest, sleeping all day because I’m sick – and to know he’s holding down the fort for me.
Being comfortable and cared for was what I was given because it was what I needed.
I didn’t have to ask Dave to stay – when he got home and saw how sick I was, he changed his plans (and his checkbook balance) to take care of our little ones, which was also taking care of me.
He didn’t have to say he loved me or that I was special and important.
He told me all that and more when he said, “You go get some rest. I’ll take care of the kids.”
Flowers and dinner out wouldn’t mean a thing to me if I was left to fend for little ones by myself when I’m sick.
There are many ways to celebrate commitment.
We don’t often think of mopping floors as a celebration of commitment. But at our house this past Saturday, that’s just what happened in my kitchen while I slept.
Sometimes I forget to remember that the little things he does are really big because they show his commitment to me and to us. I rather just expect him to change the light bulbs and fix broken things and figure out why something’s not working.
I forget to remember that the ordinary days of commitment are what make celebrations worthy in the first place.
I rather like this different (and wonderful) kind of romance.
Happy 29th to the man who not only says he loves me, but who lives it (almost!) every day.