On last Thursday my husband, Jelani, released this post on FB: “Today was rough. I had a lot on my mind, which caused me to have a huge headache. I got home from the gym not in the best of moods, which my wife noticed. She kindly asked if I would like for her cook dinner to which I replied yes, so she did as well as brought it to me along with a bottle of water. After I ate, she sat next to me, held on to my arm, put her head on my shoulder, didn’t say a word but just sat there and my headache subsided and I just started to calm down gradually. She knew exactly what to do and didn’t escalate the situation by screaming “what’s wrong with you” or “why do you have such an attitude”. I’m not saying we don’t have our disagreements but she knows how to deal with me when I’m stressed I’m out. This woman is the absolute BEST and to say I love her is a
HUGE understatement. Fellas, if you have a woman that does this for you, please hold on to her and make sure she knows that she’s appreciated!”
Ahhhhh isn’t that sweet!!! Indeed!!! I love me some him! But, first, let me push pause on your wellspring of “Ahhhs” and give you my backstory.
Upon arriving home from work, errands and after school pickups, I walked into my front door with the sole focus of folding and putting away the 5 loads of two-week old, clean laundry. Piled high on Ayanna’s bed like Mount Everest, this laundry stared me in the face every time I entered into her room. (Ayanna is too scared to sleep alone. She sleeps in her brother Jordan’s room. The empty bed in her room is the ultimate scape goat for not folding clean laundry.) Folding and putting away the laundry was my sole mission for the evening and there wasn’t anything or anyone that could deter me from accomplishing that. I had no intentions of cooking dinner, cleaning the blue sparkly Kid’s Crest toothpaste off the bathroom counter, working on my website content, searching the internet for 10-year anniversary ideas, ironing school clothes or pre-packing snacks bags for the next day –laundry was my ONLY priority. Everyone and everything would have to fend for themselves.
But before tackling the unbearable task, it was of absolute necessity that I put Ayanna and Jordan on notice. I said to them, “You are not hungry. You both already ate. I need to finish the laundry so I’m asking that neither of you disturb me for the next two hours. Do you understand?”
Unconcerned and unenthused, they responded, “OK, mommy.”
Ayanna pulled a Junie B. Jones book from bookshelf and Jordan retreated to my room to watch PBS kids. I could officially start my mission.
I transported what seemed to be the laundry for the 19 Kids & Counting crew to our
family room and turned on the TV to occupy my attention. The terrible process of folding clothes and putting them away began; and within an hour and a half, I was almost finished! Although there were several interruptions concerning Jordan’s Kindle
battery dying, Ayanna’s “extreme” hunger pains and their collective bickering, I
managed to fold the clothes and put them away into their designated drawers. The only task that remained was the placing the leftover clothing onto hangers and the valley of the shadow of unmatched sock. As I began to place one of Jordan’s uniform shirts onto the hanger, the front door opened.
In their usual routine, the kids ran down the hall towards the door and began screaming, “Daddy!! Daddy!!”
But unlike most days, they did not receive my husband’s usual loud, extravagant, and playful response. Instead, my husband gave Ayanna and Jordan a half smile and a quiet, “Hello.” He then, silently, proceeded to put away his lunch container and work bag. He walked into the family room, took off his shoes and watch and planted a solemn kiss onto my lips. No words, no random Isley Brothers “Living for the Love of You” song outbreak, no long intense eye gaze into my eyes, no suggestive bodily stroke, no huge grin…just a solemn kiss.
I, aware of his demeanor but focused on the task at hand, picked up Ayanna’s PE uniform shorts and placed it onto a hanger. Just as I opened my mouth to inquire about my husband’s day, Jordan, as if he were Flash, came running into the family room.
He asked, “Mommy can you fix me some milk please?”
I responded, “Mommy has to finish with the clothes. Can you ask Ayanna, please?”
Jordan defiantly replied, “No!! I can do it myself!” He turned around and ran out of the family room.
Jelani somberly emerged from arranging his work shoes within his closet and said to me, “ I’m going to take a shower.”
I responded with an “OK,” picked up the next piece of clothing to hang and pressed play on my new TV adventure, 7 Year Switch. (Thanks Simone:) I picked up Ayanna’s
uniform skort and began to unlock the clips of the hanger. Instantly, there was a loud shout.
“Jordan,” Jelani exclaimed.
I dropped Ayanna’s uniform skort on the couch, ran into the kitchen and found my husband reaching for paper towels. While attempting to fix the milk himself, Jordan managed to pour all the Nestle Quik strawberry syrup into the almond milk carton and onto the kitchen counter. Jelani stood in the kitchen – unfocused, mumbling and just plain out of it. Aware of my husband’s unusual disposition, I immediately jumped in to help clean up the mess and poured Jordan the requested cup of milk. My husband proceeded to the shower. I returned to my almost complete task of laundry.
As I pressed play once again, I heard the shower water come to a cease and love called out to me. I paused the TV, dropped the laundry, and headed to the kitchen.
I opened the refrigerator and took out yesterday’s pan of baked chicken. I lifted the foil and there only remained two legs and one wing—definitely not enough to fill my husband’s stomach or meet the demands of his high protein diet. In search of an unfrozen alternative, I returned to the fridge and reached for the eggs. I glanced at the clock on the stove and it read: 7:45PM. I only had a few minutes remaining before the start of Grey’s Anatomy and my husband’s 8pm training, dinner deadline. (Side note: My husband does not expect me to cook every day and would be crazily disappointed if he did! He surely knows how to cook and will prepare a meal if needed.) On any other day, he would have whipped up something for himself. But I knew that this day, was not “any other day.” And on that day, love was calling for me and laundry would have to wait.
I quickly diced and sautéed peppers, onions, and shredded the leftover chicken. I added three eggs, shredded chicken and triple cheddar cheese to the pan. Tada!!! An omelet was born. (Thank God my husband isn’t a picky man! ) I plated the omelet, grabbed a fork and a bottled water. I walked into the family room and there my husband sat silently clipping clothes onto hangers. I placed the plate of food into his left hand and bottle of water into his right. Jelani, briefly looked up, said “Thank you,” and proceeded to eat his dinner. After my husband finished his meal, he inaudibly cleaned up the kitchen and returned to the family room couch.
I purposely allowed the kids to play beyond their 8:00 bedtime. I knew that love was calling for me and needed my attention far more than they did at that moment. I left my children to enjoy their custom pillow and blanket made campsite and 100th replay of Trolls. Although my insides were screaming at Jordan’s attempt to make tents utilizing every comforter and pillow in the house, I knew that there was a far more important matter at hand. I turned a blind eye to the fact that I had just washed and folded Jordan’s campsite comforters and made my way into the family room. I pushed aside the laundry basket lined with unmatched socks and sat next to my husband. Without muttering one word, I grabbed his arm, placed my head on his shoulder and intertwined my hand into his.
Love called out me and I am beyond glad that I answered.
Often, preoccupied with the demands of life, children, careers, ambition, our personal battles and even laundry, we, as wives, unintentionally miss the opportunities to truly connect with our spouse. I’m not referring to the grand moments of birthdays, holidays, or the celebration of life’s accomplishments. I mean the everyday moments. We miss the signs, the cues, the doors that are left wide open. We even bypass the bright neon, flashing billboards that read, “Hey, you!! Put the laundry down and pay attention to your man!!”
In complete honesty, I must admit that there have been occasions where my ears and heart have been deaf to the call of love. There has been a time or two (or three or four) where I have responded to my husband’s bad days with loud, neck rolling, side eye responses of “What’s wrong with you?” Or, I am guilty of selfishly making the decision to not acknowledge or attend to his need for reassurance, comradery or intimacy because I was simply tired, overwhelmed or felt like I had nothing left to give. There have been times when I have overlooked the invaluable moment to connect with and be present with my husband. I have naively assumed that the task at hand was more deserving of my attention than his call for my love.
But on last Thursday, love called out to me. And, I, put the laundry basket down and answered the phone.
When love calls, it demands more than just gushy feelings, erotic passion or fancy gifts. It requires more than just the assurance of a fairy tale fantasy or “happily ever after” ending. When love calls, it often necessitates your immediate, undivided attention. The call of love requires sacrifice. Work. Attentiveness. Humility. Understanding. Patience. Persistence. Endurance. Action. Commitment. Selflessness. Integrity. Grit. Support. Kindness. Gentleness. Forgiveness. Truth. Compassion. Grace. Transparency.
The call of love seeks a willing and surrendered vessel. A soft answer. An open heart.
When love calls, it is beckoning you to make a choice.
On last Thursday, my love called out to me. And, I humbly chose him over the unfinished Mount Everest pile of two-week old, clean laundry.