Friday, January 24, 2014

The Best Strawberries

A few weeks ago I was cutting up strawberries for dinner for my family.  I set out five bowls and wash, cut, and sliced strawberries for everyone.  Inevitably when you buy a carton of strawberries there are some really delicious ones (red, juicy, perfect size, etc) and there are some less desirable ones (white and hard or dark red and squishy) that have been packed in the middle so you couldn't see them when you were selecting your carton at the store.  Ever since I can remember I make sure to give the best strawberries to the boys and especially to Parker, leaving the not so great ones for me.  I have always done this without really thinking about it.  Well this time I decided that I was going to give myself  the best strawberries.  I had a whole bowl of perfect strawberries and they were delicious.  Since then, I've felt horribly guilty. 

It has consumed my thoughts for an absurdly long time because, really Jenn, this is not that big of a deal!  Parker and the boys didn't even notice that their strawberries weren't the best!  I felt guilty for a long time. I felt selfish.  I felt like a bad wife. 

Then I convinced myself that it was OK that I get the best strawberries!  I went to the grocery store to buy them.  I washed, cut, and sliced them.  I made dinner.  I take care of the kids pretty much by myself Monday through Friday week after week.  I deserve them. 

But if I deserve them then what does that say about my husband?  Does he not  deserve them?  The best marriage advice I ever received was from my dad about a month before we got married.  He told me the secret to a happy marriage, here you ready??  Love Parker like he wants to be loved, not the way that you want to love him.  Always put Parker and his needs first.  If he does the same, you will spend your whole life making each other happy.  It sounds so simple but it is profound.  Everyone shows love and wants to receive love in different ways.  As you can read in the book The Five Love Languages, some people need words of affirmation, some need gifts, some need quality time, some need service, and some need physical touch.  It is easy to love someone the way you are comfortable.  It is much more of a challenge to love someone the way they want to be loved, especially if it is out of your comfort zone.  I look back on my ten years of marriage and I can think of times where I was really loving him as he wants.  Lately, I don't feel like I've been doing a very good job and I feel like the strawberries were symbolic of that.  I have not been giving him the best of me, I've become complacent, I've become selfish.   

The past week and a half here has been very cold outside.  Parker has also gotten extremely busy at work so he's been going in earlier, coming home later, and staying up late to work at home.  Due to cold and snow, school keeps getting cancelled so the boys and I have been sleeping in.  Without saying a word, without uttering a complaint, Parker has been getting up early and walking through the snow, in his work clothes, in the freezing cold, to the train because he didn't want to wake me and have me drive him.  The other day I happened to wake up as he was leaving, I looked out the window and saw my exhausted, sexy, hard working, freezing cold, unbelievably amazing man walking through the snow and ice to the train, for his hour commute, so he can begin his long work day so he can provide for his family.  I nearly broke down in tears.  Here he is, doing all this, and I can't even give him the best strawberries.  My husband deserves the best strawberries.  He deserves the best of everything.  He deserves all the love I can give.  He deserves nothing less.  It is not hard to love Parker, he makes it so easy.  He expects so little of me but gives so much in return.  I feel a sense of recommitment to making my marriage better, to showing my husband that he deserves the best and I will give him the best. 

I love you babe, forever and always...through the ups and the downs...and I will always, always, always, give you the best strawberries...until the day I die.  :)


Sarah said...

Very well written Jenn. Thanks for the reminder to appreciate our hard working husbands! (I also love the Love Languages book.)

Kris Westover said...

Smart woman