Batteries Not Included?

By JMathis

Husbands and gift-giving. It really is a hit or miss proposition, isn’t it? Either you have a husband who forgets to give you something entirely, or you have one who really means well, but ends up buying you some utterly useless gifts.

My husband is from the latter category.

I remember one year, my husband bought me the most beautiful cross pendant. It sat in my jewelry box for two years, because he didn’t think about buying a chain to accompany the pendant. Who does that? Did he just want me to stare at it and admire it from afar? I mean, this pendant was hardly the Hope Diamond for display at the Smithsonian.

Now I know how my daughter feels when she unwraps a gift, only to find that the batteries aren’t included.

Another year, he went to a high-end frame shop and spent an outrageous amount of money framing my diplomas as a gift. At one point, this would have been an extremely thoughtful gift, like when I was just a couple years out of law school, still beaming with pride. Instead, this gift comes ten years after graduation, when I could care less about my past achievements, because frankly, I’m too exhausted to care and too busy being smeared in kid poop and finger-paint. How about a night off from kid duty instead?

The classic, though, was on our FIRST wedding anniversary, and he surprised me by taking me to a fancy steakhouse. Sounds pretty good, you say? Well, it turns out this steakhouse is a glorified man-cave adorned with football paraphernalia, and I’m the only woman there that night at this cigar-smoking, scotch guzzling “old boys club.” Pretty romantic, huh? I guess all of the other women in town got the memo, because I surely didn’t. Oh, and did I mention that I don’t even eat steak???

I know I sound like a complete ingrate, and I honestly don’t mean to do so. My husband truly does mean well; my heart is genuinely warmed that he tries to do right by me, year after year.

However, every so often, I have to ask myself, “Does he really even know me?”

And, that’s when I realize that my husband doesn’t really know me in the way that I want him to know me.

Why? Because the way I want him to know me is based on fairy tales, Glamour magazine, soap operas and Harlequin romance novels—the stuff of pure fiction. More importantly, as Bindu said, he’ll never know how to fill all of the achingly-large God-sized holes in my heart.

I need to keep reminding myself, however, that he really does know me in all the ways that God intended for him to know me—in all the ways that really count.

Not as a mind-reader, and not as some all-omniscient gift-giving genie, but rather as my helpmate, friend, lover and companion.

And, that, is greater than any gift that he could ever wrap and give me…batteries included.

God-Sized Holes

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

For this past Mother’s day, I got flowers…ahem, actually, let me clarify…I got texted a picture of some flowers, accompanied with the words “Happy Mother’s Day” from my husband. I was in Houston with my daughter and we were visiting my family, specifically my own mother, for Mother’s Day weekend. When I got the text, I chuckled and called to thank my husband for his thoughtfulness. The next day when I arrived back in Florida,  I fell quickly back into my routine, and it wasn’t until the end of the week that it hit me that that my husband never gave me my Mother’s Day card or gift!

So one evening, I playfully approached him, hands clasped behind me as I trotted to him like he was Santa Clause dispensing Christmas gifts. “Hey honey, did you forget something?” I asked, coyly smiling.

He was completely engrossed in his computer but finally glanced up from the screen. I batted my eyelashes, flashing him all of my pearly whites.

“I forgot something?” he asked, smiling at my playfulness. But then he glanced back down at the computer and absently asked, “What did I forget?”

“You know…for Mother’s Day…”

He glanced back at me with a blank expression. Ahhh…nicely played, I thought to myself. His innocent act is very convincing. Internally, I was rubbing my hands gleefully together as I imagined all my possible gifts…perhaps it’s a cute outfit, a mani-pedi gift certificate, or ooooh, maybe it’s a nice massage!

But rather than rushing to the closet to pull out my nicely wrapped gift, he continued to sit on the couch, staring at me with a truly perplexed stare. “But I sent you flowers…”

“Huh? You did? I didn’t get any flowers.”  Had they been delivered to the wrong address? Maybe they arrived at my parents’ home after I left…no, my mom would have told me.

“Remember…the text…I texted you flowers!” he stated matter-of-factly.

Now it was my turn to give him the blank stare. “Seriously?” I asked, hoping he’s kidding.

Apparently, he was not.

He shrugged his shoulders and smiled half-heartedly like it was no big deal that he neglected the mother of his only child on Mother’s Day. He focused his attention back on the computer screen. As I stared incredulously at him, I momentarily imagined using those cyber flowers he texted me to beat some sensitivity into him.

I can’t help it. I know it sounds petty to whine about not getting a gift…but to be honest, I was really looking forward to some small (or not-so-small token) of recognition for my daily sacrifices as a mother. Unlike my birthday, where just by virtue of being born, I am remembered and honored, I feel like I’ve EARNED my Mother’s Day recognition.

Yep, that’s right for all you moms with teenagers…you heard me. In the 20 months that I’ve had a child, I feel very deserving of my mother’s day card and gift. In my defense, my 20 month old toddler finally started something early—her “terrible 2’s!”  So yes, in recognition of still not sleeping through the night, in recognition of the tantrums, all the personal sacrifices we moms have to make, I felt quite deserving of this Hallmark and FTD Florist-sponsored holiday.

I really wasn’t expecting anything big, but I wanted to feel special. I wanted to feel valued. Even a card would have been nice. Okay, maybe not just a card…but a card with a giftcard in it would have been nice. Or cash. I would have taken cash.

An avalanche of feelings threatened to overwhelm me as I stood there, mouth open, in dumbfounded stupor, knowing my husband could so casually and so off-handedly brush off this once-a-year day like it were one of those pseudo-holidays like National Polka Dot Appreciation Day.

I began to feel undervalued…unappreciated…and unloved.

Not wanting to start a fight over something so seemingly petty, I forcibly reminded myself of what  a wonderful husband I do have.

After all, when he proposed, he whisked me off to Catalina Island and proposed to me water-side. For a significant 30-something birthday, he surprised me with a surprise birthday dinner with 20 close friends, followed by a trip to Naples with ocean-view rooms and room service.

Yes, I reminded myself through gritted teeth, I have a very good husband. He helps me with our daughter…he even occasionally helps me clean the kitchen or load the dishwasher…and he doesn’t complain that I only end up cooking twice or less a week. I have a good husband.

My anger dissipates, but others feelings remain. The God-sized hole in my heart opens again as as I battle feelings of insignificance.

All because of a Mother’s Day gift (or more accurately, a lack thereof).

But it’s not the gift. It’s the God-sized hole that no matter how many wonderful things my husband does, he’ll never be able to fill. That hole is a like a black hole, always sucking everything in like an industrial vacuum, like negative energy… but never quite satisfied.

As I stew in self-pity, I begin to recognize the quiet, empty place. I’ve been here before. In my youth. During my 20s. Even after marriage.

But it is this quiet, empty space where God speaks to me, reminding me…

I am reminded of a friend who lost her dad when she was only 12. Losing him at such a young age had left her with her own God-sized hole in her heart. She blames her poor choices in men, her desperate need for love on her attempt to fill that void that her father left.

How ironic, I thought. All I could think of was how having my dad around was the cause of my problems…his bi-polar like personality, coupled with his short temper, left childhood scars that I’m still trying to overcome and compensate for as an adult.

My friend blames her father’s absence on her God-size hole while I blame my dad’s own personal issues as creating mine.

And then there’s the other friend. She had a good father. She didn’t lose him at a young age. In fact, he is still healthy, and they remain close. But the kind of unconditional love he showered on her made her long for that same type of adoration and devotion in her marriage.

Even AbbyA described the hole in her heart left by the dad whom she adored but was often very busy :  I spent a lot of time over the last year and a half longing for and wanting to be some of those individuals. I felt like they somehow “got more” or were on the “inside.” And, I was on the outside.

God showed me that despite our background, our experiences, we are all created with God-size holes in our hearts. We try to fill it with other things. Some people chose materialism…some chose drugs…and many of us chose the opposite sex. We pin all our hopes, our dreams, our expectations on our significant other’s ability to fill that hole.

But that’s the thing about God-sized holes…only God can fill them.

My prayer for each of you is Ephesians 3:19: May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.