We always hear that great relationships are give and take. It has to be true but I’ve wondered lately if there’s any balance or magical formula to making it a fair exchange? While I’ve been lying on the couch recuperating, I’ve watched the dark circles under Anson’s eyes get darker and deeper as he’s tried to execute both my role and his role in this family dynamic. In the morning, he had to hustle to get Roan ready for school (usually my lot), get himself ready, and get out the door on time to deliver Roan to his class AND get himself to work on time. After Anson got out of work, he had to hit the grocery store (again, usually my rotation), pick Roan up from whichever friend had offered to house Roan between school and Anson’s delivery from work. He’d get him home, and put dinner together (again, usually something I do. Not very well, but I get it done). Anson threw the dishes in the sink, pushed all the clutter to the perimeter of each room (his version of cleaning the house. Yes, the traditional female roles have all fallen on me, don’t judge) got the boy ready for bed (again, that’s usually me) and then read to him with me next to them just soaking it all in. After books, Anson had to crawl into Roan’s loft bed because I couldn’t make the hike, and sing to him and say good night. That has always been my pleasure to do, and actually brought me to tears that I couldn’t.
When Anson finally emerged out of Roan’s room, he really looked a mess. Not a hot mess as in a sexy hot dad who is handsome with food in his hair and a disheveled shirt. More like a dad who effectively got whipped by the day, and needed some Whiskey ASAP. It didn’t make me happy to see my husband suffer, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was gratifying to see my importance in this family validated by my temporary hiatus.
However, with more thought, I’ve become less smug. It is true I probably contribute more to our household order on a day-to-day basis, but when Anson wasn’t around a few days ago and the DVD player wouldn’t work, my 911 calls to him couldn’t be answered quickly enough. He also is the sole provider of finesse in the Nelson Call home. On the weekends, I sleep in until nine or ten, while he and Roan get their video game on. I am always allowed the first shower of the day, and a long shower I take, my dolls. Flowers are often found in this home and have not ever been delivered by me. Visitors can always be assured that Anson has stocked the home with cookies, ice cream and random chocolate delicacies, in excess. We have a constant soundtrack playing, with thousands of artists and albums brought to us with Anson’s technological savvy. He has adorned our walls with framed pieces drawn by the obscure but talented Roan, blown up beautiful pictures of the same boy and placed them perfectly aro
und the home. Anson’s built, repaired and rewired everything that’s needed such attention, and not only that, my counterpart works tirelessly to provide this family the luxury of living exactly where we’d like to. Our small apartment in our dream city, near family and with the best friends we’ve ever had.
So, back to the give and take balance. I know that I do give a lot to my family. But when I think of all the friends who stepped up and offered their hands as lifelines while I couldn’t do my thing, and when I consider this husband who pushes himself to give all he can and then pushed himself even further to fill in for me, I’m certain that I could never give as much as I take. Maybe it’s not about trying to keep it balanced, but just recognizing the givers around us rather than focusing on what we do. Either way, I’m looking forward to those circles disappearing from under Anson’s eyes, and enjoying my ability to climb back into my son’s bed to tuck him in. Don’t tell my surgeon about that part.