Monday, June 27, 2016

I See You

I heard her approaching on the stairs. I was alone, reading in bed - a truly divine rarity! It was early but not that early. For some strange reason, my children hadn't yet barged into my room to greet me for the day by informing me that they had no clean underwear or that we'd run out of postage stamps. My husband had already vacated the bedroom, readying himself for work. I felt a little like I was in hiding, savoring the moment, unsure of just how long the peace would last. I could hear him clunking around in the kitchen. Cupboard doors opened, the fridge door slammed, and then the shrill sound of the coffee grinder. Interesting. He doesn't use that coffee grinder for his coffee. I broke into a silent grin. This is sounding good. 

Stairs creaked. Footsteps. And then this:

My eldest rounded the corner carefully balancing a hot cup of joe, my life blood, and one of my favorite parts of the morning right now. She held the mug out towards me and said something that melted me entirely:

"Daddy says to tell you that he sees you."

With that, she handed me the coffee and exited the room, simply the messenger, completely unaware of the depth in her message.

I couldn't stop the tears. My husband, he sees me.

I sat in bed for a good long while, savoring the moment, letting the happy tears fall. We've been working hard on this lately, he and I. We've been exploring what it means to really, truly see the other.

I thought they said year 7 of marriage was supposed to be hard but it's definitely been year 9 for us. And I think with good reason! We've been living a crazy life. First with dual income, condo-living and lots of travel. Next came baby-making and grad school (his first day was when Isla was 4 weeks old!!) And then more baby-making and grad school and working full time. And then, as if running on repeat, we went on another round of the baby-making/working and grad school cycle. Then we threw in a new job followed shortly by the sale of our condo, an excruciating house hunt and finally a new house which we subsequently tore apart and partially remodeled.

We've been living in the middle of a whirlwind for most of our married life and, up until this year, didn't really feel we had the option to stop and breathe. Now we are in this weird-to-us space of being parents and spouses without the added stress of the pursuit of a master's degree or a home. Now that there is the potential for us to actually have free time, we are a little lost. I imagine it is similar in some ways to the empty nesting phenomena. So much energy is focused elsewhere and then, wham! You look and each other and think "Where have you been all my life?" 

So here we are, wondering what the heck just happened over these past 9 years. In a sense, we are letting the dust settle and spending time working to reconnect. We aren't the same people we once were when we were young and childless. Some of our passions have changed. What speaks to our souls is different now. The bottom line for me is that I have a longing to be seen, for him to know the inner-workings of my day, for him to anticipate my needs.

My counselor is helping me weed through what that means exactly for him "to see" me. It is easy to make vague generalizations of what I want but I've really had to spend some focused time chewing on this idea so I could offer up some specific how-to's to Graham. I've had to catch myself when I find myself unfairly wanting him "to just know."

Girls, our men need specifics. They just do. So let's stop with the ambiguity and give it to them straight. It may sound silly but one of these tangible ways I've discovered that makes me feel seen by my husband involves coffee. It isn't in Graham's nature to think to bring me coffee. But I love coffee. And I drink it every day. And so it speaks VOLUMES to me when he makes it for me. I think he thought I was kidding when I told him he could see me by bringing me coffee. And so I brought it up approximately 5 or 20 times or so in a variety of ways.

"You know, you could bring me coffee sometime."

"Hey it would mean a lot to me if you brought me coffee."

"I know this might sound random but I keep fantasizing about you bringing me coffee."


Ok, you get the point. And he did too. And just like that, I feel amazingly, fabulously seen. With something as simple as having him make me coffee. Could it really be that easy? Well no, probably not. But it's laying the foundation. And you know what else? My husband has been paying attention. I've been working a lot lately and *ahem* our home life is suffering to say the least. I've mentioned (ever so casually of course) how I was about ready TO LOSE MY EVER-LOVING MIND if our pantry looked liked this for another second.
And then one day I came home from work to find the shelves baron, thanks to my husband. During another one of my work shifts, he tackled the garage that we were no longer able to maneuver due to the amassing of bicycles and remodeling supplies. Need to access something in that there freezer in the background? Aww, yes. Hold on a minute. No biggie. It just involves backing out 5, no wait, 6 (!!!) bicycles, a lawn mower and two strollers. Then after you trip over the garden tools, you should have free and clear access, no problem-o! I had a literal partial heart attack every time I went out there (which was approximately 17 times a day). It's a miracle I'm still alive, really. But I digress.
So yes, as of Saturday afternoon, we can now park not one but TWO cars in our garage and I'm hoping to keep it that way!!!

These are some very real and tangible examples of what it means to me for my husband to see me - coffee and cleaning. The two big C's for keeping the crazy out of Kelsie. We've been married 9 years but the learning curve is constant. We are two ever-changing, very different people doing our darndest to love on each other in a way that resonates with the other. He adores me and I him. This marriage journey tho! It be hard stuff. And it takes a whole lot of really hard, really awesome work.

Have you thought much about what makes you feel seen? Rather than pouring our energy into tracking all the ways our spouses or friends aren't seeing us (guilty here for sure!), what if we paid attention to how they are seeing us? Or what if we spent a few minutes identifying some tangible, specific ways they could see us and then offer them up? Novel idea, eh? It sure was for me.

What does it look like "to see" you?

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posted by kelsie