NOTE: This is a guest post written by my friend Jenny.
I spend a dumb number of holiday weekends getting ready for a trial. This means long days in an empty office, trying to get everything done in too little time, and making 17 to-do lists a day.
I feel guilty: not getting to spend enough time with the kids, leaving my husband at home to manage everything for nearly a month. But every time, he does it, and he takes the kids on adventures–out of town, to the zoo, to visit family, whatever–to make sure those plates keep spinning and those faces keep smiling while I’m managing a different circus.
The thing is, I love my job. I tried for years to quit it, convinced I couldn’t do it well and be a good mom. But I was wrong. And the reason I know this is because my husband told me so. Repeatedly, until I believed him. He’s basically a genius.
My husband and I make fun of people who post love notes to each other on social media for everyone to see. We are not mushy. I will probably never say any of this to him directly, and I might even act like this little note never existed. In fact, I’m not sure how I will live with myself, after having written it. It has the potential to really ruin the hardened, sarcastic image I’ve been cultivating since high school.
But when I think about the kind of partners I hope each of my kids meet one day, I hope they know this: Someone who makes you laugh can change your whole life. Life is rough, and a lack of humor will get you nowhere. The only reason I agreed to meet your dad in person was because he made me laugh from the beginning. After six weeks of virtual laughter, I decided the odds he was crazy were low enough to chance a real meeting. Hes been making me laugh ever since, on good days and bad.
Speaking of crazy, find someone who can complement yours. It is possible that I idle high, and have a little anxiety at certain pivotal junctures…and a partner who can provide some grounding when I’m flying off the handle has been handy. Likewise, your dad has his own idiosyncrasies. It’s good that they are different than mine, but having patience and acceptance (most of the time) for one another’s weird issues is maybe the whole secret to marriage. And the blessing of it.
Find someone who is good at the stuff you’re bad at. I am horrible at remembering birthdays, thinking of awesome and meaningful gifts, and having that kind of sh!t together. Not your dad. He is full of grand and tiny gestures, remembering details of what I like, the places I want to go, and the little things that catch my eye. Same for you kids–Daddy always knows what one wants on a hamburger, what another wants to try for a hobby, which princess you will want to be when the need for a costume arises. Mommy is good for cuddling and discussing the demands of elementary school life, but Daddy is the one keeping track of what you like.
We know one another’s flaws better than anyone else, probably. AND WE ARE CONSTANTLY AWARE OF THEM (and forgiving them). And still we manage, even when one is being completely infuriating. Tomorrow is always another day. Despite the fact that I have changed over time, and don’t look like I wish I still did, I have never once felt like I wasn’t beautiful enough, or even that it would matter if I weren’t. I wish you lots of luck finding someone like that.
I am a deeply flawed human. But I try hard, and I am lucky to have a soft place to fall. It is not lost on me that the way I get to be a great mom and a great lawyer is because someone else makes it possible. Find someone who makes you laugh. And who wants you to be great, whoever you decide to be. And who makes sure you feel like you are great, even when you’re a crazy, tired mess.
Bonus if he or she will take your kids away occasionally so that you can get all that accomplished and actually sleep an undisturbed eight hours in a row for the first time in seven years.
Jenny is a partner at a Dallas law firm, wife to Mike, and mom of three young children (all equally adorable). I asked her permission to publish this post on crumbsandgrace for the perspective it offers and because I love the easy way she shares major insight.