Friday, February 18, 2005

The Dreams of the Everyday Househusband

The stereotypical standard was set by Michael Keaton in the 1983 flick, Mr. Mom: hard-working Dad forced to be a stay-at-home husband and father while his wife goes to work. Dad goes from being a clueless dolt to a well-meaning klutz, then eventually to a quality parent with a goofy sense of humor. It's the perfect fish-out-of-water story. What is a man doing at home with the kids anyway?

But despite the common stereotype, this Dad does just fine, thank you. Just like Michael Keaton's character found out, experience helps greatly. My church office is at home so I get the opportunity to be Mr. Mom quite often. The cooking, the dishes, the laundry. . . I can handle all that when I need to handle it.

As I write this, I'm all by myself. My three kids are asleep upstairs. My wife is two hours away on a shopping trip/vacation and won't be back until tomorrow night. She does this about once a year. She and a friend go somewhere to have fun together for three days or so. I don't mind much because she needs a little escape from the kids (and from me) and the housework (and from me) and the routine (and from me). She really doesn't even spend much money on these trips, so that makes it a win-win situation. But all of this means that I have to handle everything here at the homestead. Not that it's that tough; it's just that there's no escape!

I have reading to do. I have writing to do. I have errands to run and chores to do. I also have a three year-old daughter who wants me to play or dance or watch her play or watch her dance. She is very good and just plain adorable, but she isn't good background noise when I'm trying to comprehend a book or gather my thoughts to write a sermon.

Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I am so incredibly blessed by these three kids. My darling little girl is a child we never thought we could have, so that makes her that much more special. I love my two boys dearly. But I do understand why my wife needs to escape here on occasion. Bill Cosby used to say that wives are brain-damaged because they had to put up with the children's nonsense all day long. He just may have been right.

And all this just makes me appreciate my wife that much more. She puts up with a lot just from me, let alone the kids, but still she makes everything run smoothly. She is amazing. We don't celebrate Valentine's Day here at the house. I compare it to the heavy party crowd who stay home on New Year's Eve because all the amateurs drink on that night. We let the amateurs celebrate on February 14. What did we do this year for Valentine's Day? We watched what we watch every year -- the Westminster Dog Show on television. Picked the winner too. Who could ask for more? I have a Valentine every day and I love her deeply.

The Apostle Paul talked about having the gift of being single. I was not given that gift. I was made to be part of a team, and it's a mighty good team. I remember being single and I don't ever want to go back to that life again. Except maybe for a three-day escape.

I sometimes think of how much ministry I could do if I was a free agent with no ties to take up my time. It may sound good in theory, but in practice I know I wouldn't get much more done. God knows what he's doing giving me a wife and family after all. And mine are incredible blessings which are but a hint of the generosity of His hand. So as I head back downstairs to start another load of laundry and get ready to head to bed, I'll say a prayer for my wife who is away from me tonight and breathe a prayer of thanks for my wife who is always in my heart .

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