Because I Didn’t Get Him a Card
David just ran out to McDonald’s to get me a cheeseburger. I know, I know. I stepped on the scale this morning and realized that I hadn’t gained any pregnancy weight this week. This is not normal for me. I go from dinghy to Titanic size when pregnant. It’s just how I roll (literally, at the end). So the craving hit, I caved, my husband is awesome, and yes, my reputation as an Eating Beast shall remain intact. And once that cheeseburger (with my husband, of course) comes home, life will be very happy, indeed.
We celebrated our ninth anniversary last week, David and I. We had wanted to go away for the night, to a gorgeous resort within driving distance of our house, until we looked at the price of a room at said resort and thought better of it (“For that price,” David said,”I bet they tuck you in, too!”). So instead we went to dinner at this resort, a lovely dinner, a meal that took two hours to complete, and involved more forks than I knew what to do with and bread with butter made with actual chocolate, and a couple of “on the house” items from the chef. Well, then. Maybe the rooms at this place DO offer tuck-in service.
We said we wouldn’t give each other gifts, or even cards. But I got flowers, and yes, a card. It was a sweet card, in which he wrote lovely and funny and kind thoughts. I didn’t really do anything for him. And I feel badly about that. Because I should’ve. I mean, how anniversaries do you get? How many chances do I have that are full openings to tell the guy how I feel?
I’m not good at that, telling him. I mean, I can, when I don’t have to (i.e., anniversaries). I love the guy like crazy. But I feel sometimes like he’s a confident guy, he’s self-assured, he doesn’t need me to gush, which is good, because, gushy, I am not. Maybe I have power issues, and don’t want to appear weaker, like, “Oh, you’re so AWESOME, breadwinner of our family!” But yeah, I don’t tell him a lot how great he is. I’m at home all day with two kids and one on the way. A lot of my time is spent tearing my hair out over how he drives me crazy. You know how it is–you notice stuff more when you’re around it all day. Like these, for example:
- He will step over something on the floor instead of picking it up, whether it’s a bag from Target, or a book, or a marker with its cap off that a child discarded after tagging our coffee table.
- When putting away leftovers/take-out/condiments, he will always, always, leave one item out on the counter to grow putrid, tepid and spoiled before I discover it the next morning. That goes for mustard. Leftover panzanella. A half-opened bag of shredded cheese. Every time.
- When visiting our house, please don’t ever walk to David’s side of the bed. You may not get out alive. He says the stuff piled up there is dry-cleaning, but I’m pretty sure I saw a movie ticket from 2004 over there. And maybe a small kitten.
- He works, always, constantly, all the time. During the day, after the kids are in bed, on the weekends. Always.
- His politics, which were way closer to mine when we met, have sloooowly diverged in another direction, one that I don’t necessarily want to travel. I wish sometimes that his conversations could have disclaimers, like “My wife does not agree or support this statement,” but for some reason he hasn’t agreed to that yet.
- When we first met he really liked this band. I’ve never been able to get over it:
Silly stuff, right? You know, though, that this is the stuff that could wreck some marriages, especially in the beginning: “WHY did you leave that shoe on the floor?! Don’t you understand me at all?? Gad, have you ALWAYS been this insensitive?!” You know how it could roll. We’ve made it nine years, which is so crazy to me. We have chosen to be with each other. We don’t have to. No one forced us to walk down the aisle and have children and start a life together. We chose each other. By choice, like.
Thank goodness I chose well.
My friends are sick of this story, I’m sure, but I’m telling you anyway. David and I got married quickly. Too quickly, if you’d ask most financial advisors, sceptics, and that one paralegal I worked with when we got engaged. We met, had our first date three days later, and were engaged in less than four months. We celebrated the first anniversary of our first date on our honeymoon, sailing around in a catamaran in Barbados. That’s crazy, right? Who does that? We’ve had to work out a lot of our big issues after we’d already sealed the marriage deal, said the vows, exchanged the rings. It wasn’t easy at first, but it’s funny how, when times goes on, when it’s the right person and you’ve already decided that breaking up will never, ever, be an option, those big issues often work themselves out. What was a huge point of contention eight years ago doesn’t blip across the radar now. I’ve even forgiven him for the Linkin Park. And as time goes on, I realize how much I genuinely like this guy who shows up in my kitchen every morning, making my decaf coffee. I realize how much we have in common, how in step we are, and I’m like wait a minute. How did this happen? When did this happen? But look at this guy:
- He cleans bathrooms. Seriously, I talk about this all the time, but it’s huge. He cleans. He vacuums. He scoops the litter box and weeds the flower beds I planted and wipes down the counters after dinner. He doesn’t believe in women’s work vs. men’s work. He just does it.
- Not once, in the four years I’ve been at home full-time with the girls, has he ever walked into the house after his day at work, and, upon finding a whirlwind disaster of a mess in the building that used to be his home, made a derogatory or mean-spirited comment. If the house is clean and/or tidy, he notices and compliments. Only once, and one time only, did he walk into the house and ask, “Whoa. What happened here?” But he was laughing. And it was in sympathy. He’s been alone at home with the kids, has run errands with them and gone through the routine. He knows.
- He works a lot. A LOT. Because he’s conscious of the fact that he IS the breadwinner of this family, and that that’s a huge responsibility, and he works his very cute butt off to make sure we’re taken care of . He works. A lot. For us.
- He makes me laugh. Unexpectedly, and in a different way than what I’m used to, he will make me laugh out loud.
- He laughs at my jokes. And there are many of them.
- He treats our girls like children, not girls, if that makes sense. He does not treat them differently, or too gently, or expect certain things of them–or not expect certain things of them, because they are girls. They are his children, and they can do anything they want if they work really hard, and by golly, they will run this world, so help him, because they are awesome.
- He doesn’t want to find out the sex of this next baby, because he likes the surprise. As in, will be happy if it’s a boy or another girl, because he said he’s just excited to meet another child.
- He likes cars. We like the same furniture. We both would prefer to vacation at the beach rather than the mountain, and want to travel with our children when they get old enough to appreciate it. We’re content with what we have and worry about falling into the trap of “needing” more. He only reads books that are 1,000 pages long, but has read the drafts of my own novel-in-edits a billion times over.
- He encourages my writing, even though he’s working a “real” job while I squeeze in my “hobby” when I can–during naps, in the morning, late at night, like right now, at 10:50 p.m. He believes in me, honestly and truly. His confidence in me is so genuine I wish I’d known him 15 years ago, when I could’ve chased this as a career, but lacked the nerve. He is the best mirror of me I could imagine.
- He is smart. Like, really smart. And so good at what he does at work it doesn’t surprise me when I hear that somebody’s complimented him, or a task has gone well. He graduated from Duquesne a couple of years ago as valedictorian, and I barely blinked. Well, yeah, I thought. That’s Dave.
We have nine years down, and who knows how many to go. Every anniversary card that David has ever given me has included some sort of “Well, we made it over that hump–whew!” sort of sentiment in there. I said something about it last week–“Hey, why you gotta always remind me of the tough times?”–and he just smiled. Said that that’s what makes this whole thing awesome. Marriage is hard. It’s really hard. But look at what we can accomplish–look at what we overcome–when we just make sure we keep jumping over the speed bumps together. Okay, I said. I get your point.
We’re beginning our 10th year of marriage, David and I. He was only 23 when we got married, that crazy kid. We’re in our thirties now, and our family is en route to getting even bigger. And here’s what I’ve realized about our future together:
- Our politics may be different, but at least he votes. In every election, big or small.
- With him as a father, our daughters will grow up with self-assurance. Their self-esteems won’t just be wrapped up in their looks, but in how well they articulate their thoughts, the way they can kick a soccer ball, the caring they show for each other.
- Furthermore, we agree on how to raise our children. And what to have for dinner. And the style house we love if we ever build our own. And what kind of car we’re going to buy me when we’re retired, have more money than we know what to do with, and if I remember by then how to drive a car with manual transmission (it will be red. And most likely German).
- We will not be people who worry about keeping up with the Joneses (ignore previous bullet point, please) and we will be happier and stronger for it. Our children will not be spoiled, we will not be restless. Life will not be about how many toys are in the playroom, or where I just bought that handbag, or the thread count of our Egyptian cotton sheets. We will be content and grateful. Together. Even if I do have expensive taste in shoes.
- We will continue to go to concerts together, because his taste in music has gotten so much better over the years.
- He will continue to work, and encourage me to keep writing so that he can one day quit working and go back to school for fun. He won’t really be joking when he says it. He will continue to make the coffee, and pour the girls’ orange juice, and iron his clothes every morning. He will be tired but keep working, and agree to take-out when he would prefer home-cooked, and drive out at 10 o’clock to get me a cheeseburger even though he’s had a crazy day and a ton of work to still do. He will always go back for a second hug if the girls ask him, and make funny faces through the window on his way out the door. He will pick up the milk, and give the girls “rides” through the house, and pretend not to notice when the dog eats mac-n’-cheese that spilled onto the two-year-old’s chair. He will whistle, even though it drives me crazy, and eventually realize that marker is still on the floor, and will tell me I’m beautiful when I’m slouching around the couch in maternity sweats, a ponytail and my glasses.
- He will love us, because for some reason it comes so naturally to him.
Marriage is hard. It’s often so much easier to focus on what the other person’s doing wrong rather than concentrate on what you need to do right. I didn’t get David a card this year. We went out for dinner. We spent the day together. We had a lovely, lovely anniversary. But I didn’t get him a card. Next year, I will.
He deserves at least that.