Monday, June 21, 2010

Burning the Book

A few weeks after Matt and I got married, I bought a book called Don't You Dare Get Married Until You Read This! The Book of Questions for Couples. Okay, so I was a little late, but I love get-to-know-you type questions, so I thought it would be a great book of conversation starters. I took it along on our next camping trip, thinking it would be great for late-night, mosquito-ridden chats around the campfire.

After hiking down into the valley, lugging our backpacks and a bundle of firewood, we set up the tent and got to work building the fire before dark fell. The store-bought firewood was a must, since it had rained recently and things were pretty damp. Matt arranged the wood and tried to light it. And tried. And tried. And tried. Even with the theoretically-dry bundle, the fire pit and kindling were so damp that nothing would light. Darkness indeed fell, and Matt was growing frustrated.

I was standing by with my new book, waiting for the fire to light so we could enjoy our romantic relationship-growth exercises. I reluctantly offered him the title page and end sheets as dry kindling. That seemed to work... for a moment. Inspired by the flicker of hope those pages offered, I tore out the contents page and preface too. Hmm... Maybe just a little more would do the trick.

I ripped out the pages we'd already talked about in the car... and then a few more. The logs seemed to catch for a moment and then extinguished. More... more... Signature by signature, I ripped out every page in that book.

But still, no fire... and no fireside chats.

Over three years later, here we are. We haven't been camping in ages. (That one may have been our last, actually.) Even without the help of a "book of questions," we have plenty of wonderful, deep conversations. We are partners, lovers, parents... doing marriage and parenthood not quite by the book.

I put on my dressy clothes and go off to the office every morning. Matt sees me off with a kiss and a travel mug. I sit at a desk for eight hours. He runs errands, visits the sick and elderly, and does research for his sermon. I drop Kate off at day care three days a week. He cares for her all day at home the other two. I drag my briefcase through the door after an hour-long commute. Some days, he has dinner almost ready.

I really didn't plan to be a career-woman with my husband a work-at-home-dad. We've just grown into our roles naturally because they are what works for our family. We've burned the book of the 9-to-5 Man and the stay-at-home Woman and are charting our own course.  I'm far from being "The Breadwinner" and he's far from being "A Househusband" (we don't play by that book, either) but we are writing our own book, chapter by chapter.

On Father's Day yesterday, I celebrated my husband for the awesome father that he is. I am blown away by what a wonderful daddy he is to Kate. He is head-over-heels in love with her, and it shows in every silly face made, every sippy cup filled, every diaper changed, every eye-gouge and hair-pull pleasantly tolerated. I also celebrated him for the amazing husband he is to me, loving me even when I'm difficult, and supporting me as I pursue a career I enjoy.

Matt jokes about putting on a fedora and heading off to the office, and I get a huge kick out of "playing housewife" on Saturdays, going grocery shopping and doing laundry. Our roles may not always be traditional, but we have a great life together, and I am so thankful for my sweet, funny, dinner-making, ever-loving, book-burning hubby.

Happy Father's Day, Sweetie!

1 comment:

mmr said...

I LOVE this! What a fantastic image - you pulling out the pages one-by-one of what was probably a pretty stupid book to begin with. Better to work together to light a fire in the hopes of mutual warmth than to answer contrived questions anyway. Good for you guys.
Happy father's day to Matt! See you tomorrow, Jessica -
Love,
Maria

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