It had been a great – and HOT – Memorial Day weekend. With a combination of lots of quality time spent as a family, swimming at a friend's pool, getting to know our new neighbors and attending a parade, I was exhausted by the time Monday morning came around.
So I was surprised when my husband mentioned he was thinking of helping the kids with a lemonade stand yet that afternoon. I was tired just thinking about it.
Well, we all know how afternoons in the backyard go. Noon turned into 2pm which turned into “what in the world am I making for dinner” time. I thought the idea of the stand had somewhat faded away and was secretly joyful that we didn't have the complication of yet another thing added to the evening's agenda.
And that's when the dear hubby decided he'd take our two oldest to Costco to find some cups so that they could set up shop in the front yard.
Seriously?, I thought said to myself. NOW???
Truly, I thought it was a great idea. About eight hours earlier. But I knew that by the time I figured out what we were having for dinner, cooked it and then actually succeeded in getting our two youngest to “finish their bites”, it'd be a mere hour (if that) from bedtime and our girls still had two days left of school to get through before summer break. And they couldn't possibly go back after the sweat-filled holiday weekend without first showering.
My twin girls ran to the back hall with excitement as my husband reached for his keys. I was almost envious at how carefree they were in contrast to the anxiety I felt about the evening's impending responsibilities. “Anything you need from the store, babe?” he asked.
“Yeah, actually,” I stammered, fearful that I was once again taking the easy road for dinner. “Could you, ah, pick up one of those rotisserie chickens for tonight? It's just too hot to turn on the oven and I have no plan whatsoever. I'm sorry.”
With a grin, he quickly agreed, partly because he looooooves that chicken (ok, we ALL do – seriously, if you haven't tried the rotisserie ones from Costco, you owe it to yourself) and partly because he thinks it's ridiculous that I heap guilt on myself for what I call “leaking out” on making dinner some times.
And they were off.
Well, it's his deal now, I told myself. Why should I be the one who's anxious? It wasn't my project. I'll just go about my business and we'll see what a great idea it was when it's 9pm and everyone's crabby and tired.
Not more than an hour later, they returned victorious – disposable cups (and rotisserie chicken) in hand, my daughters smiling from ear-to-ear. We got dinner on the table as quickly as we could, gave thanks and dug in.
I kept watching the clock.
6:45pm. 7pm. 7:15pm.
The night was slipping away. We should seriously be starting showers already, I thought.
As soon as the girls finished, they sprung from the table in search of markers. My husband excused himself and headed to the basement to find some large pieces of cardboard in which to make their signs. The boys (who wouldn't eat quickly even if they'd fasted for a week) looked on longingly, wanting to be a part of the action.
There was a stubborn part of me that wanted to refuse to help, to let them scramble and figure this out for themselves.
After all, it wasn't my idea.
But then I looked at my children's faces. I saw the childlike excitement in my husband. I noticed the absolutely perfect Monday evening the good Lord was blessing us with. And I got on board.
Signs were drawn. Lemonade was made. A table set up at the corner, complete with a brightly-colored shade umbrella which served not only to shelter from the intense setting sun but also to attract passer-bys.
While the girls sat at the table calling out, “Lemonade! Fifty cents!” in their sweetest voices, my husband moved our boys' soccer goal to the front yard. The boys played, the girls sold, I took pictures. We talked to neighbors we'd never met before. We drank lemonade (my husband paid for every glass he took for him and our sons ;). We laughed.
We made memories.
And as I looked across the front lawn at the father of my children, this spontaneous, sometimes fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants man, I breathed a million thank you's to my heavenly Father. Thank you for this night. Thank you for this time. Thank you for these kids. Thank you for this man.
I often marvel at the fact that my husband and I ever fell in love and that this marriage works. Because you see, when it comes to organization, planning, or anything to do with what I think makes life run smoothly, we couldn't be more different. We always joke that if we would've met each other in high school, there's no way we would've even thought about dating each other. But, by the grace of God, we'll be celebrating ten years this fall.
And in these ten years (eight of which we've also been parents), one of the things God has made absolutely clear to me is that He knows what I need far better than I do. He could've provided me with a man that was just as much of a planner as I was, a man who always acted with clear intention and productivity as his goal, a man who always made sure his t's were crossed, his i's dotted.
But this marriage, these kids, don't need another me. They need him.
And the incredible memory of that perfect Memorial Day night when Dad helped us set up a lemonade stand after dinner in the front yard, wouldn't exist. Along with a thousand others which I can attribute to my husband.
I thank God that I was able to get over myself in that moment, that He gave me wisdom to keep my mouth shut when everything inside me wanted to scream that this idea was not in line with what I thought would make for a smooth evening, that I finally let down my selfish pride and enjoyed the night right alongside them.
I don't remember whether or not the girls got showers before bed. I don't remember what time it was when we finally tucked them all into bed and then headed back out to clean up the aftermath. But it really doesn't matter, does it?