Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Supporting My Man

The snow flurries grew larger and larger until the flakes covered our yard. The drizzling rain-turned-snow made me want to pull the curtains closed, light a roaring fire, and settle in for a quiet evening. Instead, I glanced at my watch and calculated what needed to happen in the next forty-five minutes to get the kids dressed and loaded into the car, pick up Corbin from his office, and get to Irving by four-thirty.
We’d had this on the calendar for about a month now. One of Corbin’s doctors had invited our family to have dinner with he and his wife and their infant daughter. With generous hospitality, they insisted on hosting us in their town home and preparing a Indian meal for our entire crew.
Nearly an hour away.
In snowy/icy conditions.
And did I mention INDIAN food??!
I thought of all that getting us into the car entailed: the bag that needed to be packed with activities to keep our kids occupied; snacks to bring for the ride home assuming the spicy dinner would be less than kid-friendly; interrupting the three older kids half-way through their movie in the darkened den, all of them snuggled under blankets on the sofa, including Basden, still sore and nursing her injured leg from yesterday’s fall; and lastly, Esther, sound asleep in her bed upstairs, only about half an hour into her nap.

Meanwhile, winter weather in the low-30’s and steady precipitation brewed a perfect recipe for frozen streets - frozen streets that would take us an hour from home to a small apartment brimming with Indian food and then another hour back late tonight. And I wasn't sure I had the energy for making conversation with strangers. 

And then it hit me - what if we didn’t even make it home tonight?! I envisioned our family of six pulling out sleeping bags in the home of a family I’d never even met, falling asleep to smells of curry and waking to the same - what is an Indian breakfast like, anyway?!
Before getting too carried away, I called Corbin to make sure we were still going.
“Have you seen the weather? Do you know it’s snowing outside?”
“Oh yeah, but I think it's fine, and I don't think it's supposed to freeze tonight. You’re going to love this doctor.”
“So... we’re still going?”
“Sure. Besides, if we cancel tonight, we’ll never make it back over. Let's go and just not stay long. It’ll be fun.”
It remained quiet on my end. I knew that Corbin could tell I was less than enthusiastic, but somehow I was not capable of verbally jumping on board.
I finally mumbled, "I know they’ve prepared a ton of food and planned for us, I’ll load up the kids and be to you in a bit.”
So off to Irving it was. No glistening fire, no movie watching, no settling into pajamas early for a night at home.
Off we go to our scheduled commitment.
This is the story of my life. Being married to Corbin is SO EASY. Really. I try to remind myself regularly that it’s not normal to have a husband as helpful and easy-going as this man. Yet this is the burden of carrying his name - he is incredibly giving and accommodating with his time to others.
It took every bit of my energy to start packing up the kids and car and wake Esther from her slumber to back out of our powder-sugared driveway. Windshield wipers swinging, seat warmers on, blankets covering Esther’s bare legs extending from her princess dress, and we were off.
I knew I couldn’t complain to Corbin. I knew that given the choice, he would have chosen to spend the evening at home. Yet he needed my support - not only with a good attitude in heading to Irving, but in getting to know this physician and his family.
And yet since I was completely incapable of giving my support, I decided to just keep my mouth shut.
Corbin graciously gave me space to get over myself on the drive over. He tried asking some questions and getting a conversation going, but to no avail. I was simply not able to carry on an easy, full conversation in my frustration. I wasn’t rude, didn’t shut down completely, but simply responded with one-word answers.
At one point Corbin starting laughing hysterically.
“What? What on earth is so funny?”
“I was just thinking - wouldn’t that be hilarious if we got stuck over here?”
I stared silently at the alien who had taken over my husband’s body.
“I mean, can you imagine all of us having to spend the night over here if these roads freeze? We’d be telling this story for years to come. It would be a hilarious family memory.”
“Um, no, I don’t think it would be hilarious. Not really. Not really funny at all.”
He continued smirking at the thought while I looked at the cars ahead of and beside us, wondering what was so important that all these people were out on this crummy night.
Fast forward a few hours...
The dinner was lovely. The roads didn’t freeze. This couple was so accommodating, I cannot even tell you. Just amazing.
We were heartily greeted by the smiling couple waving from the porch, a sleeping baby, and an enormous spread of homemade Indian cuisine covering every inch of the countertops: cutlet and potato appetizers, chicken and rice and shrimp with orange curry, creamy cheese spinach, and a handful of different sweets. After introductions all around, Corbin’s friend took him in the kitchen and pointed out every dish. He grinned up at my husband and asked, “Can you see now why I’ve been looking forward to this all of Christmas?”
In addition to the prepared dishes, they provided cokes and pizza for our kids. (At Corbin’s request the kids sampled several foods, and even appreciated them, but in the end they were quite grateful for the pizzas!) Our hosts engaged in lively conversation with not just Corbin and me but with our children as well, which kept the bag of activity books and stickers in the corner, unused. A couple of hours flew by and true to his word, Corbin had us back on the road headed home before it was too late. But before getting in our car, this sweet man and wife placed a very thoughtful, very expensive Christmas gift in our hands.
Once home with kids tucked in their beds, I asked Corbin what he thought about the evening. Like me, he was struck by the couple’s hospitality and generosity in having us over. After seeing the work and time that went into preparing our meal, we couldn’t imagine having called to tell them we couldn’t make the drive. And we were grateful for the mix of cultures - both for our sake and our children’s.
Reflecting on our evening, this is one of the things Corbin does well - loving others generously and sacrificially. If his “mission” is his family and work, then the least I can do is to support that work, namely getting out of myself and engaging in the lives of those he spends his days with. Sometimes it requires a sacrifice of self and of what I WANT to be doing. Our kids, the boys especially, are old enough to realize it wasn’t an easy thing for any of us to stop our afternoon and head over there last night. But in the big picture, they'll remember their Daddy’s selflessness and commitment to others. Loving others well takes energy and effort, and I would be wise to remember that it goes down a lot more smoothly with a good attitude.
At least, a good attitude and really yummy Indian food.