Ode to my Wife

I’m occasionally struck by the notion that I am living through a movie scene.  In my particularly self-pitying days of singlehood I imagined I was living through some insipid romance movie where the nice guy has to wade through years of loneliness to find the right woman.  Thank God that’s over. 

It still sometimes occurs to me, however, that a moment in my life could be taken straight from a movie.

This has happened more often since we had children.  It’s less that I feel my life in particular is entertaining enough to watch and more that the circumstances seem so ridiculous as to be almost contrived.  Last night was one of those moments.

Juliette, our five-week old daughter, wakes up frequently during the night.  Some are better than others of course but last night was not a good one.  Janelle and I went to bed around 9:30 and Juliette woke up every 60-90 minutes.  During one feeding Janelle went into the kitchen to start up the dishwasher to wash the bottles.  Around 1:30 Juliette woke up screaming again and Janelle went out to get the bottles out of the dishwasher and prepare one. 

While holding Juliette in the bedroom I heard Janelle say something – I can’t quite remember what it was – but I remember knowing it wasn’t good.  It sounded like she had seen something disgusting, or perhaps she’d hurt herself.  I called out a few times and got no response.  Finally she responded.

“Our dishwasher flooded the kitchen.”

imageAs it turned out, the detergent Janelle purchased last week, which was labeled “Dish Detergent” and was in the same section as the dishwasher detergent was in fact not meant for use in a dishwasher.  As we took turns cleaning the kitchen (including moving the refrigerator so we could get the water under it) Janelle berated herself and said “I even thought it seemed a little runny but I just figured it was because it was cheap.” 

At 1-something in the morning I am more than happy to find fault with others and find a way to blame them for things that inconvenience me.  But try as I might I couldn’t fault Janelle for being foolish with the dish soap – there are hints on the labeling, such as “easy on your hands!” and whatnot but I certainly would have assumed it was detergent for the dishwasher based on its name and its placement in the store – away from all the handwashing dish soap and with the detergent.  In retrospect obviously it was a mistake but it’s completely understandable.

So as I wiggled the fridge out of its spot in the kitchen it occurred to me that this could be a scene from a comedy wherein the couple is simply overwhelmed at life with a new baby and a 3 year-old.  Already not sleeping regularly we have the dishwasher flood the kitchen in the middle of the night.  As I thought more about it I realized how fortunate I am, for two reasons.

First, I am fortunate that the movie would be a comedy rather than a tragedy.  So many parents are faced with awful difficulties with their children.  Illnesses, complications, diseases rare or common, inability to feed the family or pay the bills – these are all problems we are thankfully and by God’s grace not faced with.  Whatever difficulties we do have, Janelle and I try to remind one another that we really are blessed beyond any measure and far beyond anything we could ever deserve.  Which leads me to the second reason I am so fortunate.

I’m fortunate to be able to go through all of this with a woman as awesome as Janelle is.  I use the word “awesome” to describe a lot of things but it is rarely as appropriate as it is when I use it to refer to my wife.  She has not had a good night’s sleep in at least 5 weeks; to be honest probably not since Belle has been born but we may have snuck one in here or there.  Every day (after a night of waking up and taking care of Juliette several times) she takes care of a newborn and a three year-old, she manages the house, plans meals, keeps the place clean, usually has dinner ready for me when I get home, encourages me to work out even though it takes a little extra time, lets me watch football…the list goes on.  She is awesome in a very real sense of the word.

Faced with the situation last night I think many people in Janelle’s situation would have resorted to some kind of something – be it passive-aggressive comments about how I should have done this or that, or just frustrated angry comments about the situation, or just shutting down with exhaustion.  But she did none of that.  Janelle kept her cool and we worked well together getting everything sorted and cleaned up without fighting or arguing or bickering.  As we went back to bed and lay down about 45 minutes after beginning the cleanup, I was struck with how gracefully Janelle had handled the whole situation.  I told her as much but this morning as I think more about it I really am struck by how truly blessed I am to have this woman as my wife. 

It’s sort of a cliche among Christians that men want to find and women want to be a “Proverbs 31 woman” but I really do think I have one in Janelle.  If I made a checklist out of the passage and measured Janelle against it, there would be a check in every box.  She is great with money, organizes our home wonderfully, works hard through trouble and difficulty to make life better for me and our daughters (and others), and more. 

When Janelle and I first started dating I was surprised to find out many of my friends knew her from high school.  When I told them I was with Janelle Cornelio they could not stop talking about how great she was and how lucky I was.  I had no clue how right they were.  I often joke that I view the fact that Janelle married me as proof there is a God.  Truth be told it’s only half of a joke.  Every day Janelle is a living, breathing example of the grace and love God has for me.  I know I don’t deserve her and I am so grateful for every day I get to spend with her.