Mel was singing in the kitchen again. She does this from time to time. Our youngest was asleep, and our older two were in their rooms playing. She was having a moment or two to herself.
Lately it’s been Taylor Swift. In the past it was Paramore or the Dixie Chicks. It’s kind of a half-singing, half-humming. She dances a little, too. It’s obvious that she’s trying not to bring too much attention to herself, but what she doesn’t know is that I watch her do this. Usually from the hallway.
It’s probably the cutest thing I’ve ever seen; I could watch her for hours. And as much as I want to openly watch her, perhaps sneak out of the shadows, grab her by the waist, and sing with her (although I don’t know the words), we’ve been married for 12 years and I know her well enough to realize that this is her time.
She’s a soft-spoken sweet woman who’s easily embarrassed, and the last thing I want to do is take this moment away from her. So I just watch her sing, silently, from the sidelines, and feel warmth in my heart for the mother of my children and the woman who has ultimately made me the luckiest guy in the history of ever.
Silent admiration is a huge part of marriage, or at least it is with my marriage. There are times that, while I know in my heart how wonderful my wife is, I don’t tell her as often as I should.
Because the fact is, there’s a lot that she doesn’t know.
She doesn’t know that there are times when I hold her that she feels so warm and comforting that I never want to let her go. And sometimes our embrace lasts long enough to placate this feeling, but often times the children wedge themselves between us, and I just wish they’d buzz off for a while. Not that I want to forget about them, more that I just want to enjoy the moment a little longer.
She doesn’t know how strong I think she is. Because the fact is, a mother is very strong. She’s given birth three times, and all of them have been via c-section. And each time, she handled it like a war hero, up and moving about the next day, her steps short and slow, but still moving, pressing forward; her face a mix of pain and determination to get out of the hospital and care for her new child.
I looked the first time Mel had a cesarean. I nearly passed out. I never looked again because I wasn’t strong enough to even witness it. I can’t even imagine living through it.
As a mother, Mel has worked full-time, part-time, attended and completed a college degree, attended a million parent-teacher conferences, and helped with a bazillion homework assignments. Each morning she gets up early and helps care for our family, and each evening she stays up late in an attempt to get a little time without someone clawing at her.
Her dedication is remarkable.
She doesn’t know that with each year she grows more attractive to me. Each change in Mel’s body reflects her motherhood. Having witnessed it all, from birth to child rearing, I can say with 100 percent honesty that this transition is a long road, and with each mile I have gained more respect and admiration for my wife that is beautiful in a way that transcends the simple one-sidedness of sex appeal.
Her face is still as soft as it was when we met, and yet it has hardened with concern, and pain, and pleasure, and knowledge. It’s ever-changing and yet wonderfully familiar and knowledgeable, and I can’t help but think of her smile and not smile myself, because I know that she cares for me and our children in a way that is unique.
There’s more; naturally.
Finding the time to tell her without a child crying in the background, though — or finding out that someone forgot to tell you about a school project, and now you need to drop what you are doing and run to the store — is next to impossible. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Because the reality is, there is a lot to be admired about a mother.
At the same time, it can be an incredibly thankless job. But I suppose the hardest part about letting her know is finding the words. Telling her how wonderful she is, inside and out, without feeling mushy or overly sentimental. Or at least I struggle with it, and I know a few fathers who do, too. But ultimately, if your wife is strong enough to push out a baby, surely you can be strong enough to let her know that you appreciate everything that she is.
So, men out there looking for something special to do this Valentine’s Day for the woman you love and admire, here’s my best advice: tell her about it.
I don’t think you have to pull her aside and tell her all the things that you love about her in some massive comprehensive list. Just a few words of admiration will do. And crazy as it sounds, it will be good for both of you. It will let her know how you feel, and it will give you the opportunity to think about how lucky of a guy you are. Because the fact is, if you have someone at your side, working day in and day out, sharing the load of parenthood with you, then you are pretty lucky. Because motherhood is a difficult job, and she really ought to know that you understand and appreciate her hard work and compassion.