Saturday, February 14, 2015

I notice

It's Valentine's day.  And we all know I'm not so good at being sappy.  Which is probably just a way of saying I suck at speaking, out loud, my feelings.

I do better to write them down, where they look a lot more like they do in my heart.  Something happens when my feelings transfer to my mouth and they end up sounding a lot like boy band lyrics.  Like they should be choreographed to a cheesy dance routine in which every move somehow mimics a beating heart.

I remember hearing an interview with Bono shortly after the song "Get On Your Boots" came out.

He said in the interview that, after the album released, someone asked him why he never writes loves songs for his wife.  And he sat there in shock, because he just did.  He thought, in fact, this was the most romantic song he'd ever written.

I totally got that.  When I first heard the song, and when I listened to this interview.  The music was upbeat and the lyrics didn't once mention his heart or the word love.  So I guess a lot of people don't count it as a love song.  But I thought it was beautiful.

And so I can't bring myself to say the lines of classic love songs.  I just want to say what I know, in my heart, is real.

And this is what I know is real.

Some days marriage feels like a fight to be noticed.  A race, if you will.  And one that no one ever wins.

Did you notice I cleaned the house today?  Do you know what an accomplishment that is, with a toddler on my heels, begging to be held, spilling crumbs behind me, even as I vacuum the last ones?

Did you notice I made a healthy dinner for our family?  Do you know what I went through to pick up the few ingredients I needed to realize this task?  That I literally dragged Benjamin by his arm through the aisles, and it took four of us to get him corralled enough that I could pay without him running out the door? 

Did you notice the music that's playing on the iPod?  That it matches my mood right now, with its soft melody and its hint of sad and its quiet longings?  Do you know that today I felt both smothered and alone?  That I was bursting with joy and crushed with frustration, all in a matter or seconds?

Do you know what it's like for me?

Do you notice?

 But let's be honest.  I don't often notice him.

Well, that's not fair.  I notice some things.

I notice when he's a half hour late for dinner.  I notice when he disappears as I go to do the dishes.  I notice when he falls asleep on the couch before he's even asked about my day.

Those are the things I notice.  Or the ones I tell him, at least.

But I'm trying to be last more these days.  I'm not very good at it, to be honest.  But I'm trying.

And when I can quit the race long enough to fall behind, I start to notice him in front of me.

I notice him shuffling around the room every morning.  I notice it's still dark outside, as I follow his silhouette in the moonlight.  I see that he's tired, and it's hard to listen to the persistent pleas of his alarm.  But I notice that he does.

I notice what people say about him, at school.  Parents and other teachers.  I smile and comment that yes, he does work too hard.  But inside, I'm so proud.  Because I notice that, in fact, he does.

I notice how the boys squirm when I announce, Daddy's home!  How they hide behind couches and walls and how small squeals almost always escape from their bellies, where they hold the excitement of this moment.  I notice how they wait for him to call them, to come find them.  And I notice that he does.

I notice how, whether it's gone cold or not, he goes on about my dinner.  Particularly when I know it's nothing to go on about.  But then, and I think even more so, I notice that he does.

I notice that he might disappear for the dishes, but he always shows up for bath-time.  That I can play my music and chip away at the piles of dirty plates and cups while the kids fight and splash and laugh and whine upstairs.  I notice that he's tired and he just wants a minute to relax, but the kids need washed and dried and changed.  And I notice that he might not always want to, but he always does.

I notice that he falls asleep on the couch by eight some nights, before we can even talk.  I notice the evidence in his deep breathing, that he's given his all that day.  That there's nothing left to give.  And that even when there's nothing left to give.  I notice that he does.

I notice he's not perfect.  Believe me, I notice that.

But I notice that he's trying.  And I notice him in these words.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. (John 15:13)

And so I notice that as the years pass, I care less about flowers and love songs.  I care less about date nights and romantic gestures.

I notice less the spending of his money... and more the spending of his life.

And when I'm holding out because I want some help and I want some recognition and I want a break, I'll try to step back.  If for just a minute.

I'll try to fall behind and I'll try to look ahead.

And I'll try, my best, to notice.