Lord willing, Tuesday I’ll pick my wife up at the airport in Detroit.
She will have been gone two weeks to visit our daughter and new grand baby, and there is nothing that makes a man appreciate his wife more than her being gone.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I can cook and I can clean. That’s the easy part. I can even do laundry, although I haven’t done it yet. Katie doesn’t have to do everything, even when she is here. But when she is gone I have to do more.
And when you do the thing your partner usually does, you get a better sense of what she does. And you get a better sense of why you appreciate the things you do together.
Like errands. Yesterday and today I’ve been out to the landfill, an electronics store , the recycling center, the dry cleaner, the office supply store, the grocery store, the mechanics, the gas station—and it strikes me these things are not as fun to do alone as when you are together. And I seldom do them alone, while she often does.
[So Katie, thanks for standing in lines, and waiting in traffic, and comparing prices. You are a remarkable patient and persistent woman. The Proverbs 31 woman has nothing on you, what with all her maidservants she could send down to the corner market.]
And even though I like to cook, that isn’t as much fun alone either, especially since Katie usually cleans up. I’ve run the dishwasher a few times, but the 12-place tea service I got out last week when students came over is still setting on the counter.
I did remember to water the plants today, however. For the first time. I’m sure there are plants that will not survive her absence. In fact, I’m pretty sure there are plants I don’t even know about.
I’ve also eaten out more than we usually do, and I may or may not have eaten things that weren’t good for me. I fed the barn cats every day, though, although not as early as Katie does. When they start to fling themselves against the window I usually notice.
But this I have noticed. I’m blessed to have a helpmate who helps. Even while she is away she is working hard, helping with the three boys, preparing meals, freezing meals, putting new elastic in cloth diapers.
The Puritans referred to their wives as goodwives. Pretty wise, those Puritans, to see a wife as a blessing, a literal gift from God, who is the giver of every good and perfect thing.In Magnalia Christi Americana, the Puritan writer Cotton Mather tells of a godly woman who came to New England and died. He praises the courage and sacrifice of this woman, but of her husband he says, he “try’d To Live without her, lik’d it not, and Dy’d.”
I get that, certainly the “try’d To Live without her, [and] lik’d it not.”
It’s not like I didn’t know what to do. Katie left me a list and I’ve looked at it every day. It is a guide to getting things done.
Number 5 was to replace the belt on the vacuum and I haven’t done that. Yet. And I still have time to check the voice mail (Number 7) before she gets here.
But that’s not the part I’ve looked at everyday. I’ve looked at the beginning. She writes:
1) I love you.
2) As God wills, I’m coming back to be with you!
What a gracious God I have.
And what a goodwife.
Here is an interesting paper on what modern feminists don’t understand about Puritan women.