I’ve been gone from home something like 15 days in the last 28. Since I’m the person who handles 99% of the domestic/childcare things in our life I always momentarily think/hope that I’ll come home to a husband who is exhausted by doing the things I always do and therefore has a whole new perspective on how I serve the family.
I KNOW. I SAID MOMENTARILY.
Let me start by saying this: I was raised with no chores. I mean, when we got in trouble Dad would make us doing things like clean bathrooms or bedrooms but in terms of household obligations I had zero. My Dad did it all for us. I never took out the garbage or mowed the grass or did the laundry or washed the dishes. Never. Not any of it. He sent me to college with a yellow legal pad of instructions for how to do laundry taking into consideration possible variations of the machines that would exist in our laundry room at the dorms. I didn’t boil my first pot of water until I was pregnant with E. I KNEW NOTHING.
Donnie, of course, was raised like the rest of you all probably were in that KIDS DO CHORES. The way he tells it he was doing laundry at 3 and mowing the grass at 5. But since I’m in charge of domestic life, I don’t make our kids do chores. And while a lot of people look at this as a bad way to parent, I look at it as a parent in the same way I bet my Dad did.
This is my love language.
My love language is service so making lunches and doing laundry and scrubbing toilets is how I show my family I love them. Dad and I never talked love languages, but I feel comfortable saying his love language was also service because he was always quick to drop everything to come help us do things even into adulthood. Hell, the last year of his life he spent two weeks helping me with Nyoka after I had Wesley and also went to Arizona to help my brother install new flooring in his house.
I look at my Dad not making us do chores as a way that he showed he loved us, not as a way of making us pampered entitled adults which…in case you were wondering…we are not.
Now…can you guess what happens when I go out of town? Do you think Donnie reflects on how hard I work as he does all of the work I usually do?
No. He makes the kids do it all.
And this is just such a hilarious example of how sometimes people are just different and after 20 years of being together you learn to recognize differences that are important and difference that are unimportant and this one? Not important. Donnie’s love language is not service. His is physical touch and quality time. So he sees curling up on the couch and watching TV with the kids as the way he shows them love. If he makes them do dishes in my absence or do their own laundry, he’s showing them his love in a different way.
But it just cracks me up because I always have that momentarily thought that he’ll be exhausted when I get home, trying to be me for several days. Instead he’s proud! He’ll be like, “Look! Wesley washed dishes every night! Nyoka did her own laundry!” And I’m sitting there like thinking BUT HOW DO THEY KNOW I LOVE THEM NOW?????
It’s just always funny how natural it is to frame someone else’s reaction from our own perspective when – in reality – everyone has their own perspective and so when I come home my husband is proud of making the kids do chores where I imagined him being in awe of how much I do every day for the family.
I will say there is one place this does become important: Gratitude. I work freelance and only part time so I don’t get promotions or a lot of paychecks or anything from anyone that says, “Job well done!” The majority of my time is spent in service to my family and since that is not a paying job with quarterly bonuses or vacations or paychecks…there’s no way to really stop and feel recognized for my work and so I do have to remind Donnie of this a lot. I do have to ask for gratitude and it’s hard because since service is not his love language, he doesn’t always see the work I do.
So that is an area where we’ll visit from time to time to work on ways in which I can feel like my time is recognized in some way since LORD KNOWS it is not recognized when I go out of town. Instead he’s sitting there rewarding himself for being the better parent because he makes the kids do chores because he forgets it’s the way I show them love and so as soon as I’m back home I’ll be packing lunches and doing laundry again.
It works for us, though. He recognizes that I don’t celebrate his success at making the kids do chores and I recognize that he doesn’t do all of my work while I’m gone. It’s one of the many ways you look beneath the differences to see it’s all just variations in how we show love and neither of us is right or wrong and our kids are lucky to see love in so many different ways.