What is this? At a recent bible class on Genesis, we were trading insights and insults (in fun) about what it means when God declares, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him”. The creation account in Genesis 2 is more intimate, pedestrian, and “on-the-ground” than the view from On-High you get in Genesis 1. Here, God takes the time to evaluate the situation, contemplate a solution, make the woman from the rib of the man, literally bring her to the man, and the two shall become one flesh. Such a mystery yet such a necessity, so extraordinary yet so everyday, so magical yet so very functional. One of the great gifts of marriage is the division of labor, especially if you get a hard-working, efficient, intelligent, and committed partner like I did with Elizabeth. For many years, I admit I have taken that for granted, Elizabeth will get that done. So I can go merrily on my way: saving souls, writing sermons, counseling hurting people, and enjoying those leisurely pastoral lunches. Well, that has changed recently. Elizabeth, the stay-at-home mother/household CFO/repairman/shopper is now working a full-time teaching job and many of her former duties have fallen to me. Now don’t worry, she still does the really important stuff like banking, taxes, and making big purchases. But, now I am Mr. Mom with two high school students learning first-hand just how much Elizabeth and mothers in general have done, are doing, and are expected to do everyday!
What does this mean? When our children were young and I would return triumphantly home from another ministerial day, I’d burst through the front door, “Daddy’s home!” Of course, the kids were napping and Elizabeth was enjoying a few moments of tranquility, until I would blow it up with my grand entrance. Such has been my naivete about how mothers operate. One of my new responsibilities is to supervise, most nights, preparing meals and making sure all are fed sufficiently. This was easy for a while, I wondered what was the big deal. I’d just take a survey 30 minutes before mealtime, “What do you want tonight kids; pizza, burgers, Thai, or teriyaki?” and go get carry-out. A couple things happened to upend that strategy, the credit card bill exploded and Caroline, our 16 year-old became a nutritional Nazi. So we scaled back on take-out and started planning and preparing together simple (and they better be healthy!) meals. I respect and revere women and men who are skilled and creative cooks, what a daunting task! I don’t care what internet resources you have or how good your cook books, it is a real challenge, to do this undervalued, indispensable task everyday. Yet, mothers have been doing this since the dawn of time; planning, gathering (shopping), get the firewood (cooking), feeding (critics, too), and then being expected to clean up, too. NOW, I feel your pain.
What is the takeaway? What may be the biggest takeaway of my Mr. Mom experience is that you are always on-duty, always on-call (I need a ride NOW!!), always an ATM, must accomplish everything behind-the-scenes, with no need of acknowledgement or gratitude. DO YOUR JOB! There are moments I feel that way, I can’t imagine how much the REAL MOMS experience that. We are blessed with two great kids, as different as can be, who at their best, won’t clobber each other. Never know when Armageddon will begin. I’m sure I’m sounding like a martyr, but I am actually enjoying and embracing this time in life. Before they launch, I get to teach Caroline to drive a car and instill in Mark fitness habits. What I most appreciate is being able to be there when they get home from a stressful day at school, to hear of Caroline’s friend drama, and Mark’s escapades. Many days, we all go to the YMCA together. Mark pretends he doesn’t know me and Caroline is so into fitness, she doesn’t know I’m there. Then when we return to the house, we scatter to our respective screens for a few minutes before we come back together for dinner. Around then, the real mother shows up so we all check in for a few minutes. Having been on her feet all day, Elizabeth is a bit overwhelmed with the welcome. I remember I was on a Mexico Mission trip with a friend of mine. We were stuck in traffic in our rental van and started joking, “My wife is not here to tell me what to do, I am totally lost!”. There is more truth in that than I want to admit. The mothers are the heart, soul, captains, (brains, too), of the family. So much more than a suitable helper! Thank you Lord, for mothers!!