This Monday I start a new full time job. I've been counting down the days because I can't wait until it gets here and because I dread it getting here. It's bittersweet going back to work.
It also happens to be the weekend of Winter Retreat for our three kids, so Mike and I find ourselves home alone. It's an ironic finale to a sixteen year run as a stay-at-home mom. Isn't God good that way?
We drove downtown mid-day on Thursday, the sun shining bright. Kids missing a day and a half of school were giddy with the scandal of it. But spiritual training is at least as important as the academic sort, so we drove onward feeling a little rebellious.
After working all afternoon in two separate offices, Mike and I met up at quittin' time to begin our weekend, since he's off on Fridays. I wanted to stop at the grocery store for foods the kids don't like: sweet potatoes, asparagus and perhaps a steak or two.
Mike said, "Shouldn't we be eating out tonight?"
Being the submissive wife that I am, I graciously acquiesced to his decision as head of our family.
We rushed home, worked out, showered, and headed toward take-out in cardboard cartons with wire handles. We picked up milk and granola at the grocery before we were home again, famished.
We filled our stomachs with a meal, the washer with another load, and each other's minds and hearts with coveted conversation, the kind that goes beyond tomorrow's activities and logistics to real thoughts and goals. We talked of change and what it will be like having me away from home full time for the first time since babies came along. What that will mean for us, our marriage, our kids. How it will be good for our teenagers and an almost teen to take on a bit more responsibility at home, and how my contributions to our family will just take on another form.
And then he said it, threw it out there among the humming washing machine and dirty dishes and a pair of steaming coffee cups. Some of the most romantic words I've ever heard were couched in ordinary take-out at our everyday kitchen table, twenty-two years into a marriage.
"I wish you didn't have to work at all. I wish you could always be right here to pursue your dreams and serve our family as well as you have until today."
And while our children are a state away, I find myself in a state of disbelief, at how much I'm loved, how much was appreciated over thankless, hard, years of sippy cups and piano practice. God knew I would need the confirmation that He had put all this going back to work thing together and Mike's support. This wife and mother and daughter of God, the recipient of true love, is giddy with the scandal of it.
And it's still only Thursday; the kids won't be home until Saturday night.