I am not a lazy person, but I definitely overrate how much I contribute at home.
I’ve been learning this the hard way over the last week.
My wife has been laid up with a severe ear infection; it’s taken three different doctors, the last of which was at Mass General’s Eye and Ear Institute emergency room, to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.
She hasn’t slept more than three hours a night since Friday.
She put it last night, “I’m in all this incredible pain, and I don’t even get a baby out of the deal.”
Well, she has a baby, alright, and that baby is me.
I’ve tried to be stoic about it, but the reality is that I want a medal.
We have four kids who go to three different schools in two states.
The three who live at home all need transportation to and from school, meals, and snacks.
And they need these things every day—can you imagine?
One of my favorite jokes is that at home, I’m only in charge of trash flow and cash flow.
I bring the money in and take the garbage out.
And I think of myself as one of those guys who ought to be getting a father-of-the-year award somewhere.
Why? Because I never miss a Little League game, because I arrange my work schedule to go to all the school plays, get to more than my share of parent-teacher conferences, help get the kids to bed, and so on.
In my mind, I am just fabulous.
In reality, I have had no clue of what it takes to get our kids out the door dressed, fed, and ready, because my wife makes all of those mundane things happen without a moment of complaint.
I’m so overrated.
I’m dictating these words in the car after my first run of the day, getting one of my sons to his 9th grade school.
I’ve got my fingers crossed that his brother will have figured out breakfast and maybe even lunch for himself and his eight-year-old sister.
I’m already clueless about what the first kid should have for lunch; I’ll be dropping it off at school sometime later this morning once I consult with my wife, assuming she got more than three hours of sleep last night for the first time since Friday night.
And so it goes.
I run a ghostwriting company, by the way. We will have written and published 85 books over the course of the year, and I work long days.
But I get what my wife doesn’t get—congratulatory emails, my work published in big-time places, and money.
My wife gets money transferred to her account twice a month, from which she pays all the bills after having done all the shopping.
And after having done or overseen all the laundry, cleaning, and so on.
Me? I go sit in the stands for a little league game or two and assume that my father-of-the-year medal is in the mail.
Did I mention that I do take out the garbage?
So here’s to you moms.
The hand that rocks the cradle is indeed the hand that rules the world, or at least it should be.
Without you, there would be just crickets.
No kid would get to school. No kid would eat.
No husband would eat, for that matter.
I don’t know if my wife reads these messages.
I think she’s too busy.
But if you are fortunate enough to be married to a woman as selfless and devoted to her family as my wife is to ours, don’t be like me, looking for your medal in the mail.
Count your blessings, and do something really big for her this holiday season.
I shouldn’t have needed a week taking care of my kids and doing the things that she does to learn this lesson, but I’m a slow learner.
The moral of the story: go thank your wife.
And do it in a big way.