This is a belated birthday post for my best friend.
But first let me explain a couple of things.
I love reading past posts which is why I am still working hard trying to retrieve and re-post all of my stuff that was lost in cyberspace. Our lives have changed so much since I began sharing my stories in the blogworld in 2009. I like to sit back and read what was going on in our lives during this certain months in previous years.
Some things change and some things stay exactly the same.
(Ever-Patient and the kids outside a hotel in Havana – carrying a backpack of essentials and a tired #5 on his shoulders.)
I re-read a post that I wrote celebrating Ever-Patient’s birthday 4 years ago.
In my old post, I described a man who put his family first and had an incomparable work ethic. Still true. I described a man who was completely committed to being a dad in every way which included taking on 50% of the child-rearing responsibilities when he was at home which meant saving my sanity day-in and day-out when I had just gave birth to our fifth child and still had the kids in school. I am still grateful he is in my life, my partner in crime. And he still shows me how to believe in the best in people when my natural inclination is the opposite. This is why I married him. These things are what he is made of. He doesn’t know how to be any other person. I described a man who loves the simple and who didn’t want any hoopla on his birthday. Still true.
But of course, I can’t let the day pass without making a bit of a big deal.
As soon as he woke up, I forced him to stay in bed. FORCED. This is how we are different. He needs to get up at the crack of dawn to make breakfast and to do some work. This is a struggle for him – to stay in bed and read. The troops get his morning water mixture ready – a mason jar full of water, lemon, apple cider vinegar, pure bicarbonate, and sea salt. We both drink this concoction every morning to prep our livers for the day and to regulate our bodies. They deliver it and warn him to stay in bed. I can hear his thoughts that he needs to get on with the day and DO.
I clean the kitchen. The kids wrap his presents that they chose and made/bought themselves. This is a new tradition for his and my birthday. They spend $10 or more on their father on something they think he would like or make something for him. Last year one child bought him a jumbo jar of tabasco and we made him little trading cards of why each of us loved him. This year a couple of them were determined to buy him some junkie food that he HAD to eat because it was his birthday – chocolate covered almonds and cheesecake. The little guy picked out a magazine for him. The eldest gave him the book Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan which is a book written by a comedian who has 5 children and they live in a 2-bedroom apartment in NYC. Perfect. I made him a cup of coffee and a promise that something knitted would be coming his way very soon.
We gave him an hour to himself in bed and then met up with his parents and brother for brunch. We came home and he requested we all fold laundry together and watch Rocky IV – one of his favourite movies. I vetoed the Rocky IV but agreed to the crazy birthday request of folding laundry. We folded 5 loads while watching some basketball games and he looked at all of us and said the line he always says when we are together, “This is what I love.”
Well, Ever-Patient, here is what we love about you:
You practice what you preach.
You tell the kids (and me) how we need to push ourselves out of our comfort zone in order to grow. I envy your ability to take calculated risks, meet new people, and try new things and your gracious attitude when things go wrong. The best example of this is when you come skating with us. You are physically adept at most sports, skating just isn’t one of them but you keep trying and the kids keep encouraging you like #5 who said to you the other day, “Dada, I will teach you how to turn.” You also are very candid with the older children about the mistakes you’ve made and don’t hesitate sharing childhood stories.
You are so bloody optimistic.
How did you end up with a woman who expects the apocalypse each morning she wakes up? How did you keep your cool on Saturday as we drove through white-out conditions just to get to #1’s tournament and manage to keep the rest of the van’s spirits up by cranking up the radio and singing along to 90s pop tunes? How do you hop on your bike in -30 degree Celsius weather with a smile on your face? How do you know I am better than I am when I doubt myself as a mom and as a person? How are you so sure we will always be right where we need to be?
You make time for “us.”
As the kids are getting older, you are consciously making time for you and me. On our recent trip to NYC together, you basically twisted my arm to go. I didn’t want to stress about the logistics of where to leave the kids and how to get them to all their activities without us. I didn’t want to spend extra money. But you really wanted me to come with you. You really wanted to spend time with me. And it’s not that I don’t want to spend time with you, it’s just that I forget that the kids also need to see how we make our marriage a priority, how we need to tend and weed this garden of our relationship as well. We went on adventures in NYC and we felt like a “couple.” A couple of kids. A couple of people in love. A couple of sillies following people, eavesdropping on their crazy NYC conversations. A couple of people who talked about deep philosophical issues and also who sat silently beside each other on the plane holding hands again. A couple who had a quiet rhythm of spending time together and spending time apart throughout the weekend. A couple of people whose common love of coffee took them all around the city.
I loved finding some great coffee here with you at Saturdays… a surf shop in the middle of SoHo and the fact that you always add just the right amount of cream to my coffee. It’s the little things.
I could list all the little things you do that create a life full of security, wonder, and absolute fun for our children. I could tell you how when I look at you I still see the same 18-year old boy that made me giggle and who I could talk to about Michael Jordan for 3 hours. I could tell you about the feeling of relief I feel everyday you walk through the door. I could name all the reasons why I feel this is all too good to be true and why that scares me. I could tell you how I hope our daughters and son find this – this comfort, this acceptance, and this unwavering belief in them from a partner. I could say how grateful I am that you were born.
But I’m not like that. Expressing myself in person doesn’t come easy. I’m better with the written word. So as you pass me in the hall this morning and I stop to give you a hug and bury myself in your arms, please know that the words in this post are all contained in that singular moment – the in between – because that’s where “us” is and you can always find me there.