This is probably going to sound a little strange. It’s not your birthday or Father’s Day. It’s not our anniversary or any other Day. But you need to know this.
You are my hero.
Sounds cheesy, right? You’re wincing a little, laughing at me in the quiet way you do. Oh come on. I know, it is a little cheesy. But it’s true. We wouldn’t make it without you. Seriously, not even close.
At the end of the day, I am done. I wiped and washed and choo choo chooed across the crusty carpet; I read No David five times, and A Charlie Brown Christmas seven; I watched Dinosaur Train; yeah me, I watched it. I turned it on because I just needed 15 solitary minutes to empty the diaper pail and attempt to move some clothes from the laundry baskets into the dresser, but then I sat down (FYI, don’t ever sit down, it sounds so good and innocent, like a small cocktail, but before you know it you haven’t moved in 45 minutes and there is peanut butter on the ceiling fan. You’re better off to have the cocktail and keep moving). I thought about cleaning the floor. And the mere thought of the vacuum, forget the mop, it exhausts me. But oh, how I wish we had clean floors. You remember those, yes? The kind that don’t leave you bracing yourself with one hand on the wall while using the other hand to brush crumbs off our soles? Those floors, I want them. They make me tired.
Some days, all of that stuff feels like my whole day, like my every day, like I am living the same day over and over. And then like the simplest fairytale, the clock strikes 5, and you walk in. We hear your car door close and the garage door slide, and we look at each other, “Daddy’s home.” I take a deep a breath.
You tell me I look good as you lean to kiss my face and I think, help this man, I look atrocious. I am usually all decked out for your return in some combination of my clothes and your clothes and whatever substances our two year-old ate that day, with a splash of perfume and dog hair. I look like the love child of the Mad Hatter and a hoarder, but under your gaze, I feel like a girl. Even a cute one. You’re a wizard.
Thirty minutes, an hour, on bad days maybe two hours pass and I realize all I’ve done is vent and haven’t yet asked you how your day went. Or maybe I did but I can’t remember because I was only half listening; someone started crying and I noticed the juice twisting through the grout on the floor and I am hoping you’ll be cool with picking up take out and I didn’t even hear you.
How are your days? Are they hard? Hard in a good way? Do you love your work? Do you ever wish you didn’t have to leave it? When your clock strikes 5, do you grimace, does dread fill your heart?
Are we as much of a burden as you are a relief?
If you said yes I wouldn’t judge you. But I doubt that’s how you feel. Because when you walk in at 5 o’clock you look at each of us, your little disheveled family, and you smile. Even when you don’t know I’m watching. You change your clothes, from one set of work clothes to work clothes of a different sort, and you get on the floor and you play. You ask me how I am doing. You commiserate (Sorry babe, a Target blowout, that’s awful) and you encourage. You ask me if we can have those tacos again soon, the spicy ones, reminding me at our table I’m a great chef, and you ask me what I’ve been writing, and you ask me if I saw that crazy thing on Facebook. When you come home, I have a friend. You remind me who I am, which is more than the last 9 hours.
Do you feel like you’re coming home to a friend? I hope so. I want to be. Before these beautiful babies turned everything upside down, we were best friends. Remember? Remember when we promised we’d never forget?
By 9pm we are exhausted. This sucks. The kids are down, the kitchen is clean-ish, all is quiet in our home. What would be the perfect time to do anything adult is immediately scrapped when both of us yawn. We surrender and go to bed. You set an alarm. You have no way of knowing what kind of night it will be. Will anyone puke or scream or decide the hours of 1am-4am are prime play time? Nobody knows, but it doesn’t change your plan. You set your alarm to buzz 3 hours before you have to be at work. You will rise in the darkness and do your best to muffle all the sounds from the kitchen for those of us still asleep. You will brew coffee and sit at your desk and you will pray.
You do this every single day. You pray for us, your family. You pray about all sorts of things, I don’t know every prayer, but I do know this. Every single day you ask God to be with me in my day, to give me patience for the tantrums, wisdom for the tears, stamina for the books and Band-Aids and play dates at the park. You ask God to strengthen my heart with all the good stuff I get to witness in the midst of the grind. You ask God to draw near as I parent and as I create, in my struggles and triumphs and my in-betweens. No matter what happened in the night, you start each day in the dark of early morning praying for me. That’s incredible, really. You love me so well.
In whatever you’re facing and despite whatever you are feeling, you come home to us each day, and you serve. You sacrifice sleep and time and the things you enjoy for the people you love. You act tireless, even when you’re exhausted. You pull me from the ledge, even when I’d let myself fall. You never let me fall.
You’re our hero, all day, every day. And I could never do this without you.
Am I your 5 o’clock too?
Written by April Hoss. Photo by Ali Holguin.