I’m perpetually exhausted when I’m pregnant. Some people get varicose veins, some people crave pickles and ice cream. Me? I get a stuffy nose, forget everything within two minutes of being told and am so tired even my teeth ache. Every night, after the tinies go to bed, I manage to prop my eyes open for a while to either work or write or read books. Then I stumble into bed and fall asleep before double-digits even register on our alarm clock hours.
Last night was no different. 9 o’clock and I’m burrowed into the duvet, window wide open, room freezing. Brian followed close behind. Even though he’s in business development now, or as they say, “off the tools,” he still picks up an on-call week every month, as a project manager, to make a bit of extra money for us. This last holiday weekend, he was on call and sure enough, he was gone all hours of the day and night, dealing with panicked people whose homes had caught fire or whose pipes had burst or matter-of-fact police who tell him where to clean up after they remove the body. He rallies the troops and begins the rescue operation of their homes, pulling on his carpentry background, his restoration background, his flood/fire/biohazard training and, surprisingly often, his pastoral training. (People in crisis are easily settled by my husband. It’s why he’s so good at what he does. He has that way about him – just brings calm to any storm….particularly the red-headed, Scotch-Irish-English, lover of hyperbole wife variety. Ahem.)
He was just as tired as I was last night. But at 11:30, after just two hours of sleep, his phone started to ring on the dresser. He rolled out of bed to answer it and even I can hear someone is panicking on the phone, freaking out about two feet of water and damages and not knowing how to turn off the water. It’s not his night to be on call. So he could have just hung up, he could have just called the guy out in Chilliwack who is supposed to be on call that night. But he gets out of bed and puts on his gear and heads out.
I fall asleep after he goes down the stairs.
At 4:30 in the morning, I hear the front door open. He stumbles into our room, in the dark, careful not to turn on any lights so that the tinies and I don’t wake up. He wearily climbs into the shower. He crawls back into bed with me and is asleep even before I am.
And then his alarm goes off at 6:30 and he gets up to go back to work. He worked again, all day, without complaining.
I’ve written before how love looks different now than it did then, 12 years ago when we fell in love. And today, his love looks like an on call schedule, like hard labour for a philosopher king, like late nights and calluses, like whistling while you work and finding joy in the sacrifices of one’s own plans.
Why? Because he loves us. He wants to provide for us. Because he knows that the tinies are happiest when I am home with them (and so am I) so he’d rather do this than any alternative. Because pastoring again would mean moving again to the next job available and he’s unwilling to pack us up, to take us away from home, to take away the grandparents and the auntie and the uncle and the cousin that love us.
He decided, even after pastoring, even after the years and years of school, even after the great sense of calling, that full-time vocational ministry is not as important as his family. So he’d rather stay here, working hard. And strangely, he’s found that he’s called here, too; that there is joy here. It’s what love looks like – this laying down of his life, even his sleep, to live out our values, to have a life that reflects what we’ve always said mattered most. The thing that baffles me is how he does it with such joy. Like this is what he wanted all along.
He always said he loved me more than all of it. Seeing him crawl out of the bed we’ve shared for nearly a third of our life, after just two hours of sleep (yet again) with a grin on his boyish face and arms wide for his tinies, little morning people hurtling towards our bed, I believe him.