I pack lunch for my husband. So what?
To me, this has always seemed like another routine part of my day. It’s something I just do. I like to do it and it feels right.
But over the years, I’ve come to realize that this is not necessarily a common practice in today’s busy world, and I’ve also learned that people respond to the idea in some very passionate ways.
I am consistently questioned, “Why?” by nearly everyone I encounter that learns about my devotion to feeding the man I married 18 years ago.
I’ve received looks of concern, eye rolls, tongue clucks and outright sneers when I discuss my mornings of darkness, staggering down the hallway and stairs to a cold, farmhouse kitchen to begin the process of dragging out pots and pans, various ingredients and cooking utensils.
I’ve been asked, “Well, if he can’t do it himself, why not just do it at night so you don’t have to get up?”
I’ve been told (this is my favorite), “I would never do that for anyone…”
And finally, the most unsettling of all questions for me has been, “What does he do for you in return?” Yeah, this is the attitude of way too many people in this world. He does plenty for me but honestly, I hope to never be keeping score.
In response to all the inquiries and quizzical head tilts, I’ve had to do my own bit of soul searching to come up with the real answers, for myself more than for anyone else. No, I’m not subservient. He would do it himself or buy lunch if I suddenly refused to crawl out of bed with him in the morning.
No, I’m not trying to mimic some long-forgotten image of the perfect housewife (I have my own career, plus I don’t clean or do laundry nearly well enough to aspire to that role). So what is it? Why do I feel it’s so important to rise with him, prepare healthy, sustaining meals for him while he’s at work, and send him off on a positive note each day?
The answers are—it turns out—rather simple. Beyond a driving desire to ensure he is fueled by fresh, organic produce, oatmeal, fresh breads, eggs from our backyard and homemade salads and stews, I have found my motivating reasons for this piece of my daily routine are really quite selfish.
First, I do love being the wife who does this kind of thing. It makes me feel proud to know that he’s bragging about me to his work buddies (who are eating out every day), and I know that he’s thinking of me when he opens that lunch box to see what I’ve prepared.
Second, I reap the benefits of the extra hour or two I have after he’s left for work and before the rest of my day begins. The house is quiet and I make use of this time to catch up on reading, to meditate, to do yoga, to make plans or to write. It’s become my favorite part of the day, because it is all about whatever I want to do.
Finally (and this is by far not the least of the reasons), I continue to rise before the sun with my hard-working man so that I can see him and offer some loving care before either of us begins our day. The few moments we spend in that cold kitchen set the tone for everything that will transpire throughout the next 24 hours.
The feeling of connectedness and well-being that occurs in our early morning embraces carries into the evening when he returns and we cook dinner together, spend time with our children, and tend to our household duties. It follows us into the bedroom where we curl up together, make love and sleep wrapped up in each other’s skin. It is a ritual that is ours alone, and that nourishes both of us in very important, fundamental ways.
In a world where everyone is so busy, so distracted, and so focused on where they are headed next and what they are getting out of everything that they do, a few moments in the early morning quiet can go a long way. Basic and even mundane rituals such as packing a lunch that doesn’t really need to be packed can help create a habit of taking a breath, looking at what (or who) is in front of you, and being grateful. The satisfaction of doing something for someone else, something that you pour your heart into, is great. Both parties thrive on that type of love.
For me packing lunch is simply symbolic of saying, “You’re important to me and this is how I choose to thank you for being in my life.” It could be something else. It could be anything. For me it just happens to be packing lunch.
My challenge to you now is to create your own ritual. Be vulnerable. Be open. Take action. Show someone how much you love them and see how it changes your life.
Author: Stacy Hein
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Brian Henry Thompson
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