One weekend a couple of years ago totally changed my perspective on marriage.
In one harrowing experience, my blatant inadequacies as a husband and a father were totally exposed and I was able to see my wife as the superwoman that she truly is.
I know our readers appreciate context, so let me tell you a little bit about myself and my lack of adulting skills so that you can fully appreciate and understand the magnitude of the journey on which you are about to embark.
In short, I’m a big kid. I know, you’re probably saying to yourself “yeah all men are children”, but trust me when I say I’m in a league of my own. I specialize in sports and dad jokes. I communicate strictly in sarcasm and movie quotes. I’m great at leisure activities, socializing and having fun, but I don’t do so well with adulty things like cooking, fixing stuff or taking care of sick people.
Although I rarely get sick, I’m a borderline hypochondriac and any minor ailment such as a runny nose will put me down for the count. You’ve heard the term “man-flu”? I’m the poster-child. I fear needles, blood and have a tendency to panic when faced with anything requiring medical attention. If you have an emergency when I’m around, you’re probably gonna die. I’m chuckling to myself as I write this because you think I’m joking…
So anyway, a couple of years ago the wife went away on women’s church retreat for a weekend. There she would be totally shut off from the outside world. No phones or communication with anyone other than the women who were with her on the retreat.
My seven-year-old son and I were tasked with holding down the fort while she was on her much-needed getaway. For three days, it was just me and little dude living it up. It was going to be awesome and I was looking forward to hanging out with him all weekend.
Friday *insert ominous tones from Law and Order*
Friday night was lit. We slammed some pizza followed by hours of Minecraft on Xbox.
A few hours into our gaming binge, little man informed me that he was feeling nauseous. I didn’t think much of it and assumed he ate too much pizza or something. Being the little trooper he is, he didn’t let his digestive issues derail our game night.
After a successful evening, we made our way to bed a little after midnight. That’s when it happened. I was awakened by putrid smells and cries for help. I scooped the kid up and rushed him to bathroom with fluids coming out of every orifice. It was awful.
In this type of situation, my wife would typically step up to the plate while I cowered in the corner unsuccessfully attempting to suppress my gag reflex. She had always been there. But now, I was the sole member of the vomit task force. It was on me, literally and figuratively.
My parents only lived a few miles away, and I thought about calling for reinforcements. But I wanted to show my wife that, despite being a man-child, she could depend on me to handle this type of situation. Punking out was not an option.
After little man threw up a couple of pizzas, we got cleaned up and back into bed. He quickly fell asleep, but not I.
I felt so bad for him. I wanted to take the sickness away. Parents know there isn’t a more helpless feeling than when your kid is sick. All I could do was restlessly sit there and watch him all night long. Being a natural worrier and pessimist, my mind automatically jumped to the worst case scenarios.
What if he throws up in his sleep and chokes? What if he stops breathing? Is he dehydrated? Should I take him to the hospital? These are the crazy things that went through my mind, and constantly consulting Dr. Google was like throwing gasoline on my bonfire of anxiety.
I wanted so bad to just talk to my wife so I could get some direction. The point of her retreat was to be separated from the noise and distractions of the outside world. No phones, so I had no way of contacting her. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night.
However, I knew these stomach bugs usually only lasted about 24 hours, so tomorrow would be smooth sailing if we could make it there, right?
Saturday was better. He stopped up-chucking, but he still wasn’t himself.
I tried to keep fluids in him, and forced crackers down his throat throughout the day. Although he stayed in bed most of the day, I thought the worst was over.
I thought wrong.
That night, the power-puking returned with a vengeance. Anything he tried to ingest came back up just as fast as it went down, and I began making preparations to visit the ER.
About 3:00 am, I threw in the towel and called my mom. 15 minutes later, she was there, her arms full of Pedialyte and saltines. At this point I was delirious, having been almost 48 hours without sleep. I was able to sleep for a couple of hours while my mother looked after the kid.
She saved the day! Thanks mom!
Finally. We made it.
It was Sunday and my wife would be home that evening. Sunday was mostly spent cleaning, washing sheets and disinfecting the house. My son still wasn’t himself, and neither was I. I had only slept about 4 hours total the entire weekend.
I was absolutely exhausted, and traumatized. I had never seen a human being that small throw-up that much.
Later that evening, my father-in-law picked up my wife and told her what had happened while she was away. When my wife finally arrived home, I was met with laughter, much to my chagrin. I was expecting sympathy, a thank you and maybe a hug.
But…she was laughing at me? And not like a slightly amused giggle, I’m talking hysterical, belly-aching laughing. What the heck? I asked her, “Do you realize what I’ve been through?!?”. She replied, “Yes. Yes I most certainly do.”
That was the longest weekend of my life and definitely an experience I’ll never forget. I truly believe that God allowed it to happen to open my eyes. The trauma and the timing were too perfect for it to be just a coincidence.
For me, it was an impactful moment of self-awareness, and I realized that I had been sheltered, coddled and spoiled. I had always assumed the wifey would be there to bail me out. Unknowingly, I had taken her for granted. After what I went through that weekend, I’ll look at her through a filter of gratitude and appreciation for the rest of my life. What almost killed me is merely routine for her. I’ll never take her for granted again.
Today, we’re celebrating 12 years of marriage. It’s not been easy, especially not for her.
Marriage is a partnership, a process that works best when both parties are pulling their own weight. I’m ashamed to say that, for the majority of our marriage, I hadn’t. I feel like I’ve just now learned to fully appreciate and recognize her as the strong, selfless woman that she is. I don’t know why she chose me, but I’m extremely grateful that she did.
I know you’re reading this, and I know you’re not one for PDA, but I just want to say thank you. I’m so undeserving of your patience and love. Thank you for continuing to love me despite my shortcomings. Thank you for seeing something in me that I couldn’t see myself.
Thank you for your sacrifices and always being there for our little family, day in and day out.