“You could be a poster mom,” the nurse at the doctor’s office said.
Because my baby is gaining weight. Because I try to feed my daughter good things like cheese and broccoli. (Trust me, many meals consist of mac and cheese, too…) Because I got out of the house and made it to my appointment on time.
I paused for a minute when she said it. There is no reason for her to say that to me. I am only doing what every mother desires to do for her children. My only response, and one that has had me thinking ever since I heard myself say the words:
“Well, I have wonderful support.”
In that moment, my heart ached as I thought of all the mothers and babies who do not have what we do. We have loving and supportive extended families. We have a community already here at Notre Dame who brought us meals, watched our firstborn, welcomed our son with joy, and came over to be with me just in case I needed something those first days of flying solo with Dad back to class.
And most of all, I have a husband and my babies have a father who attentively and sweetly loves us.
In my few years as a wife and now as a mother, I have often wrestled with the suggestion that my role is to support my husband in his vocation. Yes, it is. But often that suggestion sounds to me as if my support is at the giving up of my own desires and dreams. As he pursues his desires—and this primarily for the purpose of providing for us!—I am to take a supportive role, doing the dishes, cleaning the house, caring for our children, doing all I can to be sure he is given every chance to succeed. Again, yes.
But what I realized is our roles are so much more mutual than I came into marriage thinking: he leads, I follow; he provides, I support. They are not so simple.
Our support is, and must be, mutual.
Just as I make lunch for him (occasionally these days; sorry, babe!), attempt to facilitate some quiet in our home so that he can focus on his studies, or even just get up with babies at night so that he can be well-rested for class the next day, so he comes home with a smile for his family, makes bath time full of giggles for Edith, or snuggles a baby while I teach a few online classes.
I realized that we both have vocations—different ones, but equally important. And in these vocations, our role is to support and help the other to succeed. Does it still often feel like a sacrifice, like small deaths every day? Yes, of course. But we both die these deaths and make these sacrifices for the success of the other.
And as I seek to support my husband in his pursuits, I could not do that without his own support and love.
My babies are happy and healthy. I am able to get out of bed in the mornings, feed my family, love my children. We laugh and sing and play together. We thrive in the love and support of a father and husband, and we are thankful.
For all of those who have not been given this mutual love and support, we pray. Lord, hear our prayer.