Another wave crashed upon us. But we made it back to shore.
I feel stronger now…we are stronger now.
I had been so caught up in my own personal struggle that I didn’t for a second think about my husband the way I needed to be.
My husband works so incredibly hard and is dealing with his own personal struggles and yet it never occurred to me that he was even stressed out. He deals with his own baggage, silently. And then comes home to me and tries to mend me back together.
When we first met, we would talk for hours about his work. He was still in patrol at the time and he always had these hilarious encounters to come home to tell me about. Scary stories too, gross stories, funny stories, happy stories. Always a story.
Now, it’s different. He doesn’t talk about work.
It’s the same every day:
Me- “Hey honey, how was your day?”
Him- “It was fine. You know, the usual.”
And that’s that. At that point of the conversation, our son is usually going through the Tupperware cabinet, or crying because he got his finger stuck in the laundry room door, or he pooped, or wants to nurse, or is chasing us around the house.
I just trusted that my husband’s days WERE good. Some days he would tell me they were boring, or nothing really happened. With the distraction of my own life I didn’t look further or dig deeper.
It became like the Mom asking the teenager about their day and the teenager answers, “Fine.” And the parent says, “Cool!” and no connection is made. Meanwhile, the teenager is dealing with a breakup, failed test scores, acne, and a late period but of course they can’t say this because no one actually wants to hear about those things, right?
The thing is, I DO. But I let the conversations go like that for too long. I had been neglecting him unknowingly.
My husband is a Detective in a specialized Drug Unit in the city. Being a Police Officer right now isn’t really something anyone would like to be. There is a lot of pressure and a lot of stigma. Some could offer that it is almost poetic justice that police officers are facing many of the same stigmas that the black community has for centuries—looked at as killers, thugs, just plain bad. I won’t even dispute that notion. It is a horrible truth that people have abused power for generations and still do. The black community has faced generations of wicked atrocities. I don’t pretend to think that some officers should not be in the line of duty. I can recognize that in any demographic, there are good and bad.
I’m not black but I can relate and sympathize, if only from a small scale….I myself come from a Hispanic family. I faced my own degree of racism growing up in prominently white communities…I went to 7 different schools and truly only 3 of them treated me badly, but it affected me growing up. It started in kindergarten by teachers, fellow students….all the way to high school. Stereotypes, assumptions. Some of those stereotypes in my family WERE true. Many were not. No, I didn’t come here illegally, I don’t have a green card, and I never swam in the Rio Grande. I am not a “Spick,” “Wetback,” or “Dirty Mexican.” I’m not Mexican at all. Yes, my father is an immigrant, yes, he’s been in jail, but you know what? My mother is Irish and likes to drink too much, so I guess all stereotypes hold some truth. But no nationality or group can be smooshed into one single category.
I know what it’s like to walk into a store and have more eyes on me–granted during my chola days with my big hoop earrings, slicked back curly bun, and Reeboks, but still, I remember the feeling this gave me when I noticed the eyes weren’t being stuck on the white people in the store. I’ve had white people ask me condescendingly if I spoke English while working as a bus girl at a restaurant. I know what it’s like to laugh at jokes my white friends make about my race when I don’t actually think it’s funny at all and feel like the tease is downright outplayed and boring. Neither of my parents went to college but I graduated high school, went to college without getting pregnant, and got my degree…although I did conceive before marriage… I can fit some of the qualities that make up the stereotypes from my culture. But not all. I’m Hispanic, yes, but more importantly I’m an individual. I suppose that’s why I view every person that way, no matter where they come from. The only reason I go into detail about all of that is because I want it to be clear that I GET why black people are angry for everything they have gone through. It’s justified. I’ll never dispute that.
However, the point of this post isn’t about what’s happening in the world directly.
The point is about what’s happening in my husband’s world and how it affects him. Because this in turn affects me.
I rarely watch the news. It’s depressing, and I try to stay away. It generally only makes me feel anxious and afraid and I hate the divide that the media constantly nourishes. I figure as long as everything is okay on the homefront, the most I can do right now that I can handle is to pray for the world. Truly, I pray for world peace. A pipe dream it seems…
The thing is, my husband doesn’t want to worry me, so he doesn’t tell me what he really is going through on a daily basis. He doesn’t tell me what truly is happening on the streets or the encounters he is having.
While I’m at home dealing with tantrums, and diapers, and cooking, and pulling my son’s hands out of the toilet, and cleaning for the hundredth thousand time, and picking up what I JUST picked up, and meal planning and grocery shopping, and not sleeping for days at a time, and feeling like I’m losing myself…My husband is out in the world living HIS life….during a very scary time.
My life can be trying. It is exhausting. But when I wake up that day, there never is a rational fear that someone might want to hurt me just because I’m me.
There ARE psychos out there—of course. Some could want to hurt me just because I’m a young mom. A woman with brown hair, a Hispanic Mommy.
But the chances of someone wanting to hurt my husband because he is a police officer are much, much greater. I have the very same fear mothers and wives of black men have. Is my man going to come home today, or could he be taken simply for being himself…?
My husband has a great rapport with the people of the city that he serves. He has a way with people. He is able to calm my raging storms when no one else ever could before. He is able to do that with others, too. I’m not worried that one day my husband will be the one who got scared and killed an innocent (or even guilty) man. I’m not worried about him taking his anger out on a civilian or using excessive force. I’m worried about him being at the wrong place in his uniform when someone decides to level out the playing field. And it won’t matter that my husband is one of the good ones. Someone who has faced his own discrimination, way before he even chose this career.
I know that these are things that I worry about. I’ve cried on his chest countless nights about this. But I never stopped to realize that all of this takes a toll on him, too.
He broke down to me and told me that sometimes he feels as though I think my job is harder than his. That his job is a walk in the park.
I had voiced to him that lately he has told me that he has been bored at work. He admitted that he hasn’t always been truthful.
I begged him for the truth.
I had cried to him that he gets to go to the gym for a couple hours every day ALONE. That he gets to go to work and leave this world and then when work gets nuts, gets to leave work. I told him that I never get that.
I told him I NEED to hear his side.
And so he did.
He told me the burdens that he carries, the pressure he feels to take on all of the financial stability now, having to work so much so that we can always be taken care of, how it feels to go to work with people cussing you out just for the uniform you wear, by people you have never ever encountered, never talked to before. Being told that you’re a piece of shit every day, hearing the words “Fuck you” every time you walk by. Wondering if that day will be the last day you come home.
He said that he wasn’t being condescending when he told me that he could stay home. Truly, he would love to take that on. All he ever wants is to be home with us.
I cried listening to him as he confided in me. It hurt me inside but I needed to hear this.
I guess it should be obvious that this is how he would feel with what is happening in the world, but I didn’t take the time to put two and two together. He was the exception, I felt. We had discussed the wrongs in the world before. We can sympathize with the families. We recognize the good and the bad. All I ever saw when I looked at my husband was strength, protection, bravery. And admitting these truths to me doesn’t make him any less strong. It’s the opposite in fact. He is more human. Being brave doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid…it just means you run towards the very thing people are running away from…because it’s the right thing to do.
I wish he would have told me sooner. I felt like I was the only one struggling, but listening to his stresses helped me because it made mine feel so little. It helped me to see him again. REALLY see him. I needed to have things put into perspective for me.
My job is hard, any mother can agree—being a stay-at-home-mommy is not as easy as it sounds. Motherhood is the hardest job I’ve ever had to do. It is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I feel like I’m constantly being pulled into ten different directions, constantly trying to be stronger, better, sweeter, for everyone. I’m the maid (a bad one), the cook (decent), the shopper, the nurse when our son is sick, when my husband is sick, the lover.
But as a wife, I was failing my husband in a way I didn’t see. I was being a mommy….but I had stopped being the wife. To be clear, these are all my words—not his. He refuses to admit that I have been failing.
I failed him because I saw my own issues when I looked at his face.
Somewhere along the lines I stopped seeing HIM. When I looked into his eyes, I didn’t see him. I saw another person to take care of, I saw how exhausted I am. I saw my own frustrations.
I got so caught up in the tornado of my life and my emotions that I lost sight of him. I wasn’t giving him the same grace I was expecting him to give to me. The same grace he WAS giving me.
When I was too tired to do the laundry because our son was up all night, he did it. When I was too tired to go get groceries, he did. Without a complaint.
He also works full time, with a crazy schedule that alternates from day work to night work every two weeks. He is constantly picking up overtime so he isn’t getting much sleep. And even though I am the one who physically gets up with our son, he hears him screaming. The nights that our son screamed for hours on end and my husband was in our room while I wrestled our toddler in the living room, he wasn’t actually sleeping like my crazy, distorted mind thought. He was being just as disturbed as me. Just as exhausted as me. But even more probably, because when he wakes up he goes to a job that’s even more thankless than mine, a dangerous job, with pressure way heavier than I could ever even fathom. And then? He leaves that job to come home to me, a woman who has not been the easiest to be around.
I’m not saying, ladies, that our job isn’t tough. I’m not saying that we don’t need time to ourselves. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t vent to our husbands when we feel that we have hit our limit…We absolutely should. If you’ve been following my posts then you know the struggles I’ve been dealing with as a woman and mother right now.
But we also need to remember to keep one foot on the ground as well as our whole hearts on our men, to remember that they are human, too.
While we are in our whirlwind, they are facing their own trials and tribulations. When we are tired, chances are they are exhausted. Life is happening to EVERYONE.
When we get in a cycle that is hard to get out of, it is hard to remember that. That life is happening to everyone. That we are individually dealing with so, so much. Which is why communication is SO very important in a marriage, during parenthood and each new chapter…
Communicate to let each other in on whatever it is we are dealing with inside our souls…communicate so that we can continue to grow together as man and wife… so that we can help each other through these seasons and nurture each other emotionally.
We need support, we need intimacy and soft touches and reminders that we’re doing great, that we’re appreciated. We need grace and compassion and understanding, we need our husband’s patience. We as women know all the things that we need.
But what we really need? Is to remember that our husbands, they need that too.
“An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life”
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up,
as fits for the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
“Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church,
his body and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives,
as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
that he may sanctify her,
having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
so that he might present the church to himself in splendor,
without spot or wrinkle or any such thing,
that she might be holy and without blemish.
In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.
He who loves his wife loves himself.”
*I used to have trouble with that last one, but I can understand so much clearly now. “He who loves his wife loves himself.” When my husband is gentle and loving with me, patient in helping me grow into the woman and wife God wants me to be, I naturally am a better woman and wife to him.
My study bible breaks it down perfectly in stating that,
“The submission is not the husbands to command, but for the wife to willingly and lovingly offer– Because the obedient spiritual wife’s SUPREME submission is to the LORD, her attitude is that she lovingly submits as an act of obedience to the Lord.
As the Lord delivered his church from the dangers of sin, death, and hell…
so the husband provides for, preserves, and loves his wife, leading her to blessing as she submits. The supreme responsibility of husbands in regard to their wives, is to love them with the same unreserved, selfless and sacrificial love that Christ has for his church.
He leads her to purity and closer to Christ.”