Mimi threw a huge tantrum the other day. She and I were at each other’s throats and driving one another crazy, as is the way with mothers and daughters sometimes. Hush witnessed the whole debacle as she pushed every one of my buttons the way a child can, and even lobbed some nastiness his direction.
When Hush and I first started talking to one another I told him I had no interest in getting married again, ever. As a teacher I know that it’s possible to love other people’s children but unless they are family it’s well nigh impossible to tolerate children permanently. As a single parent I know what it feels like to be continually on duty. When you have children you quickly learn that they are your responsibility 100% of the time, whether they’re with a babysitter or a family member is watching them they are still doing you a favor to relieve you of them for any length of time. I gave birth to those kids and I only feel guilt free when they are with their father or with me. And they are rarely with their father.
I got used to having the kids all by myself with help from family. I have pretty great children, but their closeness in age makes taking care of them en masse difficult for me, let alone any one else. My sisters and parents could do it for a few hours at a time but it is unquestionably hard. I got through that time by being an uncomfortable “taker” when it came to Charitable service given by my family. I felt very much like a weight rather than a buoy and it was an extraordinarily humbling experience. Nevertheless, I’d established a routine and made a life for me and my children in Dville. In reflection, I see quite clearly the charity bestowed upon me and my children by God: twin five year old girls a few houses down for Mimi to play with, a house on a cul-de-sac where the children were safe, parents who could help out when money was tentative, a primary where we were able to maintain community and structure, my sister close enough to carpool to preschool, my family to watch kids at a moment’s notice when I was called in to substitute, an ex-husband who never once fought with me over the children thereby giving them the gift of a peaceful consistent single bed life. These services are miraculous to me and taught me a lot about how charitable God can be while the weight of the world was seemingly on my shoulders.
I didn’t need a husband. But being at home every night alone from 7:30 pm onward becomes tedious and very lonely.
My children, I thought, had pretty much everything they needed and didn’t need a dad in their home. They had plenty of positive male role models and only had one parent to contend with as far as discipline. I had zero interest in allowing someone to get to know my children and tolerate them in any way – knowing as I do that other people’s children are a novelty for a while, but eventually are just plain annoying. I did not want to have to be so high strung and worried that my kids are being difficult to manage.
I remember some of the earliest conversations I had with Hush as being a reward for a day completed. Hush knew that I had children but I had sworn up and down that I was only interested in being entertained while I was (willingly, gratefully) trapped in my house by sweetly sleeping children. I looked forward to speaking with him because our lives were so different and he was such an interesting person.
Months passed and I somewhat blindly moved to Salt Lake City, trusting that the blaringly loud prompting for God in my ear was legit. Hush lived there, but I figured when he learned the real measure of what me and three kids looked like he would gracefully tap out. I was planning not to fault him for that.
In the months that passed I watched a massive transformation. Hush had never been married and had no children. He has plenty of nieces and nephews, but for all intents and purposes he was a single dude. Children are by nature selfish unreasonable little beasties, and Hush is a man of control, thought and reason. He wasn’t there to wake up with them in the night when they were infants. They aren’t his little carbon copies. They’re children and sympathetic by default (and because of their attractiveness) but they’re also children and hard by default.
The magic happened through one attribute: Charity. In my plan to avoid forcing a man into my children’s lives I neglected to account for the power of service and charity. Hush was around the four of us and we needed a lot of help. Silas can’t get himself drinks. Jude needs his shoes tied. I need an evening respite from my life of kids. Hush already loved me, but I was privileged to watch as his service became pure love for my children. He taught them to rock climb, he ate dinner with us, he unflinchingly threw himself into a life of service. And charitable service is how Hush became a parent.
Last week Mimi needed an adult with more patience than I had at the moment.
Epic as Mimi’s tantrum was, Hush stepped around me and into the room where she was screaming and crying. My breath caught: was he going to get in her face and tell her how naughty she was being? What could this guy do to help the situation that not even I could get a handle on? I squeezed my eyes closed in frustration.
In a moment the shrieking stopped. I opened my eyes to see my little daughter cradled in Hush’s arms as he spoke soothingly to her calming her down.
And this is the greatest gift that God has given us thus far: a man with a charitable heart.
(ps. this message has not been approved by Hush. He says I need to stop writing about him because he is a tough badass who has NO soft spots for anything or anybody.)