Whenever I'm feeling a little sorry for myself, I find the time-honored tradition of remembering the less fortunate does a lot to right my perspective.
Today, I decided the Less Fortunate is actually my spouse.
Here in Southern California, today we finally emerged from the June gloom, and are enjoying temperatures in the upper eighties. This was the day we decided to take my SUV in for some repairs. So the girls and I got to drive around in "daddy's car." Problem: Daddy's car has a broken air conditioner. And black interior.
As I was driving around accomplishing my little errands, I watched as my daughters began to wilt in the back seat. By the time we were five miles from home, they had tomato-red cheeks. I had really bad hair and sweat dripping down my back. To make matters worse, Toddler kept asking me questions, but I couldn't hear her over the roar of the wind while the windows were down.
When we got to our destinations, in my haste to extricate myself and the children from the Flying Fireball that is the car, I would yank the key out of the ignition, only to have the keyless remote fall into two pieces onto the floor.
"How does Daddy stand this?" I asked the kids more than once. They may have answered me, but I couldn't hear them. They may also have been passed out.
Some background about our car situation: For years, the Flying Fireball was our better car. At that time it was new, had AC, and power steering, which made it a vast upgrade from Husband's five-speed pickup truck. We finally bought husband a new SUV, and within 18 months had a second baby, so I got the SUV, still in absolutely pristine condition, with trunk space for the double stroller. Husband got demoted to the Flying Fireball. What made it worse for him was that he knew the girls and I would soon trash the SUV. He wrapped every possible surface in protective plastic coating and, for the first month, flinched every time I got behind the wheel.
Poor husband. Today's heat wave brought his sacrifice into a new context for me. I began to think of how many other ways my life is easier/better than his. For example:Most days, I get the girls at their best, in the morning when they are fresh for a few hours (or perhaps only one hour, depending on a number of factors). Husband gets them when they are exhausted, hungry, and need to be bathed and put to bed. Every morning, I get to see my handsome husband walk out the door, smelling fresh and looking dapper; while in his last lovely view of me, I am still sporting yesterday's mascara under my eyes, and mismatched pajamas. And after he works hard all day, he comes home to me smelling as delicious and looking as sexy as any woman would who has spent the day swishing a brush around a toilet, and being outnumbered by tiny, loud human beings.
Today, he sat at a desk, while I sat in the shade and buried Toddler's legs in the sand. I'm not saying motherhood is easy (read on tomorrow, my friends, for that side of the debate), but while he is still sporting a first-class farmer's tan, I'm already bronzed (at least from the plunging neckline up) from days at the pool.
True, I daily and usually thanklessly (sorry, sweetie) do the job of two manual laborers, and I haven't been to the bathroom alone since 2004. But I'm still getting the better end of the stick. I feel inspired to try to make his life a little better, or at least keep the car a little cleaner.
And next week we're getting his AC fixed.