This month I’ve been on a lot of trips for work meaning that Dave has both been asking for more help with caring for our son Reuben and watching him more. Let me say that I have no qualms whatsoever leaving Dave as the primary caregiver of Reuben. He is an awesome Dad that takes our son to do cool things, is nurturing and active as a parent. Awhile ago one of our friends we work with was asked by someone “so are you babysitting the kids while your wife is at work today?” when his wife was on a trip and he replied, “no, I’m not babysitting them, I’m their dad- I’m parenting them.” This has kind of summed up our views on being an egalitarian household when it comes to parenting- we’re both in it 100%.
However Dave has been pulling more like 150% lately since I’ve been away. He made squash and black bean soup that I smelled simmering on the stove when I walked in from the cold after an exhausting set of meetings in Cleveland. He took Reuben shopping to buy his nephew a present for his 4th birthday party & let him pick out a set of matchbox cars and one of those annoying hoops & yoyo singing cards. He did the laundry to make sure our son has clean underwear to clothe his little buns when he inevitably pees through the pair he’s wearing. I know many dads on staff with InterVarsity in particular that are like Dave- they sacrifice so much for their wives so that we can pursue our dreams, relationships and careers. I am always amazed by Dave and the many wonderful dads I know that are like him. I am so thankful for my husband who blesses and frees me to do the work God has called me to.
It is hard for me not to feel guilty at times- like I should be the one pulling the fresh loaves of rye bread from the oven and wiping Reuben’s snotty nose instead of motoring around the state talking to students about Jesus. It’s hard to know when it’s worth it to make sacrifices for my family for the sake of the gospel and when it’s just old-fashioned stubbornness coupled with drivenness that keeps me going. I don’t really have any answers for how I deal with this other than to make space to talk and pray with Dave about how he’s feeling, to set good boundaries we think are feasible for our family and to give ourselves the permission to reevaluate if they don’t seem to be working for us and do something new.
I’ve enjoyed what I’ve been doing this month, but I’ll enjoy it when it’s done and I can spend more time at home with Dave and Reuben. For other people who find themselves in situations like this, how do you manage the seasons of your life that are busier? How do you care for your spouse when they’ve been the one giving so much of themselves to make it work for your family? How do you deal with the simultaneous feelings of guilt and exhilaration at doing a job you love? How do you recuperate once that busy season is done?