My Ted, it feels subversive when you reach for my hand as we lay on our bed and the baby plays between us. The sunlight shifts in the bright morning light and the lattes warm the spring chill. Your strong hand in mine. Simple. Subversive. And full of effort. It feels as if it would be easier, for now, for Us to cease to be and remain only Mom and Dad. Easier to feed the baby and ourselves and to stop dreaming our own dreams, pursing our individual goals and dreams and pleasures.
So much “self” is already given when two become one. When two become three, now, there is hardly any Ted and barely any Caitie. Lots of Augustine, though, and not just because he is a loud child. He is greatness and joy, curiosity and exuberance, energy and needs with no sense or real ability. Bottomless appetites, these little ones. And we are charged by God and nature to care, to teach and to sacrifice to fill these appetites that are our children. So the effort of holding hands with the man who put a baby in me feels almost like a distraction. A sacrifice that takes away from my ability to give to my son. But it isn’t. And it shouldn’t be.
I know that I am the best wife to Ted when I am the best Caitie I can be. When I am caring for my self as I care for Ted and Augustine. Keeping an eye to the water level in all my various “buckets of personality” (thanks to the Foremans for this idea. I heard that at a private retreat outside Atlanta in 2012). Who I am is a complicated thing. I’m multi-faceted, three in one in the image of the trinity, inconsistent and evolving, growing, changing but staying the same.
Christ emptied himself to take on our flesh, and I know I should empty myself and sacrifice to be like Christ and to be a good wife. But the thing is, the Lord gave me the delights of my heart. He made me to delight in certain things and ways, and he’s constantly shaping the things I delight in and calling me to serve him with them. But a Caitie much like Jesus, with less sin and more righteousness is still a Caitie who adores mountains and gold glitter and Italian opera and kickboxing to missy Elliot and eating anything sweet while I read anyone dead. It’s one of the paradoxes of faith: the more we lay at the cross the more we receive from Heaven. The more like Jesus we are the more individually ourselves we become.
And if I do not steward myself, how will I ever steward my son?
So just like I am the best wife to Ted when I am my full self, we are the best parents to Augustine when we are our full Us. When we remember the love we had when we first held hands. First kissed on that bench and first held our baby. The love we have for the little boy has changed everything, our marriage first and foremost. But it’s all been changed in the way butter browns when heated, not the way water evaporates under the same duress. Deeper, richer, darker, more complex and tested.
So, Ted, please keep reaching for my hand when it doesn’t matter. Because it does. And hand holding while the Baby plays is subversive. It’s a rebellion against the selves that would rather disengage than fight for life. The selves that need to be full so they can pour out. The selves that married because two is better than one.
My love, help me fight our tendency to put our son and our sleep and our moments of iPhone solitude before our marriage. Let’s not to succumb to the 930p exhaustion every night. Encourage me to pursue myself as I encourage you to do the same. And out of that and the grace of Jesus we will find our way along.