Why do we so often measure the quality of people by what they do for us? David’s birthday was yesterday, and when I was thinking of what to write in his card, so many of the adjectives that came to mind were ones that described how he interacts with me, or people close to me. He’s selfless, I thought, which is true: that man would give up his left arm (he’s right-handed, so…) for me if I needed it, and every single day he does something that requires him to step aside in order to make room for me. I am embarrassed to write that–what does it make you think of me?–but it’s true. The only thing he won’t do is go with me to see Morrissey in concert this summer, but I think even the best men in the world would draw the line there.
So I sat there, pen in hand, thinking…about me. Dave’s an absolutely patient person, too, which is nice, since I’m, to say the least, not. He slows me down. Makes me see the bigger picture, which I need to do sometimes.
He works really, really hard at home and at work, I thought, which is awesome, because, you know, we’re a single-income family. With a bunch of kids. If he were lazy we’d have a whole set of issues other than making sure our grocery bills stay within budget. His work ethic is the reason we can swing my being at home full-time, and the fact that I have not yet been institutionalized.
I just…he’s my husband, right? And I love him more than I act, most of the time, because for some reason I’ve battled this—thought–in my adulthood that if I show somebody too much affection, too many compliments, too much…adoration, if you will, it makes me weak. Like raising him up pushes me down. Yes, I may have issues. I know that already. Which is why I got luck to marry a guy who sees past all my imperfections like they’re completely invisible (“Hello!” I want to shout, “Do you not realize that I am occasionally terrible at this marriage thing?” ) and loves me for the person I should be, all the time, rather than the one I am (Or rather, for the person I am, and to hell with what I “should” be. He’s good like that). He’s reading this right now and probably about to say I’m too hard on myself, but…there it is. My brain is one giant power struggle.
And here I go, thinking about myself instead of making my point: we love people for being generous to us. We love them for how available they are in our lives. We love them because they make us feel good about ourselves. Not all the time, of course, and not all people. I love that Dave plays the guitar, not because it benefits me (most of the songs he plays are Led Zeppelin’s, so…no), but because it’s just a cool interest for him to have. And I love that he loves hockey, and weird surrealistic artists, and Breyer’s chocolate ice cream, because it all just makes him the great person with whom I’m raising babies.
But a lot of the time? I love him for the way he loves me. Which I guess isn’t a bad thing in itself, but it’s not characteristic of the kind of person I want to be. Because the kind of person I want to be is the kind that accepts a person for who he is, that loves people without wanting love back, who gives without thinking twice if what I’m giving is sacrificing too much of myself.
Kind of like David.