All this talk of Mother’s Day (because of my giveaway and the subsequent “wish lists” my fascinating readers are sharing there) made me think of something a friend said recently. It stuck with me because his comment exposed a part of him that I think every wife and mother would want to run right over and hug.
A group of us were enjoying a festive dinner when he said it and I just looked at him with a moment of wonder and the conversation moved on. But it is now two months later and I keep thinking about the simple beauty of what he said. So here it is — and there is a tech tip at the end.
Jack is currently married to a good friend of mine, Jen, and acting as a wonderful father to her two children from a previous marriage. He was married previously and lost his first wife to cancer. Jack and his first wife had two children together.
We were all talking about stress, work, marriage, parenting, how hard it can be to connect with each other at the end of a crazy-busy day, and how parenting can be so tiring because it never stops. Jack is a get-things-done type. In fact, he has been CEO of one thing or another for many years. He just shrugged at all this griping and pointed out that while all this was true, it was was a problem that was easily solved – if both people in the marriage want it solved. At first, I thought. “Right! He’s a man. He has no idea.”
But then he said the thing. The thing I can’t stop thinking about.
“When our kids were little, my wife was crazed with stress every single day when I got home from work,” he said. “I wanted her to be relaxed and fun and willing to spend time with me. I had a busy job and wanted to kick back when I got home. Fighting with her about it certainly wasn’t going to help. That would just make things worse. IÂ realizeÂ some men might think she should just ‘handle it.’ She was a stay-at-home mom and the kids were her job. But it was clear to me that while I could leave my job in the office, hers was 24/7. She didn’t have five minutes to de-stress — ever — so that I could enjoy her company. That was the problem. So I hired a sitter to come to our house every day from 3pm to 6pm. That gave her the time she needed to take a bath or clean up or go shopping or whatever it was. It might be just to run to the grocery store without two kids along. That was the solution. After that, she was happy to see meÂ when I got homeÂ instead of pulling her hair out and handing me dirty diapers. That solution worked so well that we took the sitter with us on vacations.”
His wife never had to resent his ability to just sit down and enjoy a moment of relaxation after work. (She had hers.) He didn’t have to jump right into another stressful situation after work. (She’d had time to get things under control.) Problem solved.
Okay, the dude went – seriously – way up in my estimation at the end of this little speech. (And I already liked him pretty well.) But he insisted this wasn’t any big deal. It was just simple problem solving. He didn’t do it because he was Mr. Perfect.
“My reasons were entirely selfish,” he insisted. “I enjoyed my wife’s company and wanted to spend time with her. The solution was pretty obvious.”
Don’t you just want to hug him?
Anyway, a lot of the “wishes” on my Mother’s Day giveaway are for a little time to sleep late or go to the bookstore in peace. And, I realize that not everyone can afford a sitter every single day and on vacations. (Oh, man! How sweet is that?) Mother’s Day only comes once a year, though. And maybe there’s a Mom in your life who would like to have a sitter take care of the kids for a couple of hours so she can sleep or shop or take a long, hot bath? (If you are that Mom, please feel free to share this link with husbands who might not be so adept at problem solving as my CEO pal.)
And here comes the tech tip: If your excuse for not getting a sitter is that you don’t have a good one. That’s a problem easily solved as well. Go to Sittercity.com. There are lots of highly qualified, fun, high school and college students out there that your kids would enjoy spending a few hours with – there’s probably one right down the street. Finding them was once difficult. Not anymore. You will be spoiled for choice.