Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Extraordinary

It was thirty-one years ago today that He knelt with me and promised to love me, honor me, and keep me above all others. He made these promises to last forever. That has meant that He has had to overcome selfishness, work to resolve differences, and forgive my shortcomings (of course I have had to do the same-but I am talking about Him here). Knowing that you are bound together for eternity requires patience, hope and charity toward one another. If He expects to collect on His promise later (when we find each other in heaven), then He knows He has to work on our marriage now. Otherwise there is no promise.

Marriage is designed to be magnificent and sublime. It has the potential to help us grow and develop into better individuals. It creates a singular place for learning about love, not just the physiological sensation of being in love, but learning how to love. It is the place to learn about forgiveness, humility, sacrifice, and charity. It is a shelter where we can build a refuge from the world, find acceptance, and give and receive unconditional kindness. It is a place that we can learn about ourselves, a place where we can grow and evolve into someone better that we started out as. And it is the place where we can find happiness.

Marriage is a partnership of equal effort, although often not exerted at the same time. There have been times when I carried most of it on my shoulders, and there were other times when He did. And there have been some times when we have carried our marriage in unison with the same amount of strength and determination. Blissful is a strong word, but I would call these times as close to it as is possible. How did I "luck" out and find someone who has been willing to go the distance with me? How could I possibly know what kind of a man would emerge from the 17 year old boy i once met? I don't think the most important determining factors in choosing Him as my partner for this journey are seen on the surface. That has been the purpose of deconstructing why I love Him, to illuminate those things previously unrecognized as having the greatest effect on how I came to love Him, and how that love continues to grow deeper year after year. As I have reflected on His ordinary acts of everyday life, I now see that those often seemingly routine and un-distinctive traits, habits and actions that make up day-to-day living are really quite profound when given this frame of reference. Although each and every day we spend together may seem unremarkable individually, collectively they become extraordinary. Marriage is anything but common, it is uniquely our own. Together we make it what we want it to be, and so it has to be treated exceptionally. Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in we have to keep an eternal perspective in order to advance each day together, one day at a time.

Love is meant to grow, and so this list does not end just because this gift does. There will always be one more reason I love Him. I love Him because of the ordinary acts of every day through which He manifests His commitment to me. I love Him because of the ordinary daily expressions of love He has given me. I love Him because He has not been discouraged by living an ordinary life with an ordinary girl. I love Him because He works along side me to build something extraordinary...in our own beautiful ordinary way.

He is mine for eternity...

...one more reason I love Him.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Hiking

He told me that He still can't believe that I agreed to go out with Him the very first time. He said this at an elevation of 11,749 feet. It was our 30th anniversary and we had decided to hike to the summit of the mountain that dominates our view every day. We live at the base of an impressive mountain range. Although we had talked about it forever, and we have lived in the same general area our whole married life we had never climbed it.


The trail head is well marked and since it is a popular destination we knew we could find our way fairly easily. We are both active and physically fit and so we were not worried about the strenuous hike. I think like many who live in mountainous regions, we feel comfortable exploring, and often go in fairly lightly packed. We knew exactly where we were and felt both safe and comfortable with the task. The trail was clearly marked by a well worn path. However there were a few places where we either couldn't see the marker or followed the wrong one and we had to turn around and get back on the right path. We took what we thought was enough water, but soon found that we had run out. He was certain that we would find fresh springs along the way, and we did. It was hotter than we expected and the icy water flowing from inside the mountain was pure bliss. We stopped along the  way periodically, but we kept going. For years we had seen pictures of beautiful wildflowers along the trail. We were disappointed when we reached the meadow and found that the flowers had come and gone. It was about this point where fatigue set in. We could see the saddle ahead, but the trail before us looked rocky and desolate. Luckily, together we were determined to reach the summit. We finally reached the saddle and the views were fantastic. He joked that this was good enough and maybe we should turn around. From the saddle we could see the summit and it didn't seem very far away. We had come so far why would we turn around now?

Continuing we momentarily lost sight of the summit and as we rounded a bend we could not find the trail. Instead we were faced with a craggy and rocky roadblock. Luckily some descending hikers appeared between the rocks and marked the way. This was a rough patch. There were spots where He had to boost me up to the next foot hold. Finally the summit was in view. All we had to do was traverse the cliff face composed of a treacherously steep and narrow zig-zaged path up the face of the mountain. This was the most difficult leg of the hike. The temperature was dropping as we got closer, and the wind was whipping so hard I felt as if it would just pick me up and carry me away. We rarely looked up and clung to the rocks as we slowly climbed higher. Reaching the summit we found a narrow peak about 6' wide by 10' long. We were alone. It was cold. The wind was howling around us. The view was breathtaking. As we clung to each other on the precipice He said " I still cant' believe you went out with me".

He made the climb...

...one more reason I love Him.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Traveling

He has always been true to His marriage vows. I know that some may think me gullible in this declaration, but, I trust Him. This too may sound naive, however, I believe trust is half the fight in marriage. And yes, I think marriage is a battle. When we get married we actually declare war. We fight for our family, honor, unity, security, peace, and happiness. We fight against selfishness, culture, society, media, statistics, and averages. However, it must be apparent by now that I do not think He is average. While statistics suggest trends they do not take into account the variability of individuals; and we can't let them negate our reality. We are not on paper, we are in a home. He is not just a man of a certain age, socioeconomic class, and upbringing; He has actual, experiences, hopes, and dreams.


I do not think He is alone as honorable men go either. My father was true to his marriage, as well as His father. I think this is significant, because I believe fidelity is a legacy. Men who respect their marriage vows set an example of honorable behavior. They create a standard to follow. I think they show a path for their sons to follow without even realizing that they are doing so. I also believe that they teach their daughters of the respect that they deserve, and that they should require from their husbands.

I think His behavior is the manifestation of His goal of a successful marriage, and it helps Him to continue to climb toward His goal. I do not know if His behavior is conscientious or not, but it is consistent. He does not flirt, He does not talk about intimate subject matters with other women, He does not talk about personal issues or His home life with other women, He removes Himself from situations where He might be alone for an extended period of time with another woman, He does not have close women friends, and He does not participate in social media friendship sites (and neither do I). While some may think these things socially unsophisticated and harmless, they are anything but. These are the seemingly simple things that start a path of no return. He travels a different path. He travels a tougher path. According to statistics it may be one that is less traveled, but it is the one He chooses every day, day after day.

He is true...

...one more reason I love Him.

 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Mary Janes

In the movie The Family Man, Nicholas Cage's character, who is a single, high wheeling and high living investment banker, wakes one morning to find himself married, a father, and working in a boring job in the suburbs. He likes this movie. In His favorite scene the family goes to the mall to shop for the necessities that never end while raising growing kids. Cage spots a high end men's clothing store like the ones he shopped at during his pre-responsibility life. A melt down (husband), a call to reality (wife), and an argument ensues. The gist of the husband's frustration is centered on the fact that there is a need for his child's new shoes and it outweighs his wants. The husband voices his devastation about his lost life with the line "where are my mary janes?"



He has never cared what He wore, or what He drives, or really even where He lives, as long as they have been adequate for His needs. It seems like life is a never ending series of family needs. I know there are things He dreams about; places He'd like to travel, toys He'd like to indulge in, T-times He wishes he could make, and even the ability to make seemingly insignificant frivolous purchases, but He doesn't do it. I know the argument that when you choose to have a family and children you willingly give up the freedom of being selfish. That's a perfectly sound argument and I'm not suggesting anything different. However, if I am being honest, I have had self-indulgent thoughts. I may not voice them, and if I am thinking straight I would never trade my family for the actuality. But, those feelings still creep in every once in a while, and I know He feels the same way.

You think that as your children get older they will become less and less costly. This is a fable, one that keeps us going. While some financial burdens are lessened with time they are counterbalanced by new ones we never imagined. Its as if we are making a symbolic trip to the mall on a never ending monthly rotation, and it ends with Him never getting His mary janes. He knows its His choice. But He must feel like His mary janes are just always out of reach. What I appreciate is that He could choose otherwise. I have seen other families lives devastated through selfish purchases. Day after day He accepts the financial choices He made when He started a family, and the obligations that go with them.

He is selfless...

...one more reason I love Him.




Monday, July 29, 2013

Rehabilitating

I am afraid that the last few posts are making His life sound heavy, and this one won't be any different. But thats life, burdensome, drudgery, and unhappiness. However, in between all these difficult and troubling times are moments, days and sometimes even weeks filled with pleasure, sweetness, and joy. I think sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the good while dealing with the bad. He has had many times over the last few years when He has had to cling to the silver lining.

After His sister came to live with us during her illness, His brother was killed in a tragic car accident. Shortly (and I mean shortly), His mother had a massive stroke. It happened the day after Thanksgiving, and at the time it seemed to Him that He was being singled out for the catastrophe bus. Of course there were many family members that were all reeling from this particular series of tragic events, but He was the one who everyone turned to for help and guidance. He was the one who had to make decisions about His mother's health care, maintain His families sanity, and sort through all the mounds of to-do lists that come with such things. He was hoping that rehabilitation would be effective in His mother's care, but after a few months realized that her health was declining. He brought her home with hospice care, hoping to make her comfortable for as long as He could.  She was bedridden and she could not speak. It was clear her mind was still there and you could see the frustration in her eyes with her inability to communicate. This was a difficult situation in its own right, but the tragicness, and resulting weariness were intensified as all the incidences were piled on top of each other.


As I watched Him care for His mother I was moved by His gentleness, kindness, and compassion for her. There were times when hospice could not be there to help her with personal matters, and during those times He took care of her needs. It must have been extremely difficult for her to have Him be her caretaker. However, He worked hard to help her keep her dignity. He often became frustrated at the demands placed on Him, as well as just feeling helpless, but He never let her see it. He believes He will see His mother again, and she will probably have a lot to say to Him about what went down. I think she will embrace Him and thank Him for being such a good son who loves His mother. Through some very dark days He was her silver lining.

He spoke without words...

...one more reason I love Him

Monday, July 22, 2013

Helping

My father was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease about ten years ago. They decided that they needed to move from their rather large three story home to one that would be more manageable as his disease progressed. A building lot down the street from us came on the market and they decided to buy it and build a home. The reason they chose to build there was because of Him. First, they knew that we had no intention of ever moving and they also knew they needed to live by one of their children. Second, moving one town away from their old home let them stay close to their friends. And third, He would be close by.

My parents have relied on Him for a long time. They have not always need the level of help they require now, but He has always been their go to guy when things broke and my dad couldn't fix them. My father is the tall thin academic type who works hard, but lets say that he is limited physically. Recognizing this, He stepped in early to volunteer His brawn. Since then they have continued to accept His help over the years. Often when they would discuss some home project they were planing on hiring out with us, He would enlist Himself to do it.


My extended family is big and they all help out with my parents. However, He is still their go to guy. In between His responsibilities at home, His jobs, our kids, and other family duties, He heeds the call to help them. He has been a part of my family for many years, still, I am not sure if He sees Himself as their son, or a son-in-law. If the first, He may be helping because it is a familial obligation. If the second, He may feel that He needs to please them for their acceptance. As i look at it, it doesn't matter. The first shows that He accepts His place in my family and feels the same obligation as if His own. The second shows that He cares for me enough to fulfill whatever family obligations I have. Either way, by caring for my parents, He is caring for me.

He is dutiful...

...one more reason I love Him.
 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ailing

Our oldest daughter was recently married. She had always wanted the reception to be in our garden. Our yard is not exceptionally large, but it is a fully landscaped perennial garden with multiple flower beds including ones in the front and on the sides of the house. It is a lot of work to keep it watered,  weeded, green and bug free. We also have a large patio area where we have about 21 pots we plant every year with annuals. He loves to work in the garden, but it can be overwhelming. It can be maintained by weekly gardening, but it requires a lot more attention to get ready for a wedding. During this same time our family was dealing with multiple time consuming issues and financial strains. We knew that we could not hire any help to get our yard ready for the wedding, so we plugged along preparing for a late spring reception.

Months ( I mean months), earlier He had started battling what He believed to be unavoidable exhaustion from all His responsibilities. I convinced Him to finally go to the doctor who ran every test he could think of, and concurred His suspicion that He was indeed overwhelmingly exhausted. The doctor ordered Him to take time off from work and find some time to rest. The idiom "no rest for the weary" seemed so very applicable. He knew that under the circumstances that He could not "rest", so He carried on. He really did't even slow down. I watched helplessly as the stress started to make His face look haggard. He suffered from a chronic high temperature hovering around 102. He started to walk slower, and even hunch a little. People would tell Him He didn't look well. The wedding came and went, and He was pleased that it lived up to what His daughter (and I), had dreamed of. After the wedding some of His other stressors also resolved themselves (although they also created new ones).



A few months after the wedding He decided that He better go back to the doctor. That in itself meant something was serious. Finally, and oddly, a diagnosis was found. He had been under the influence of mononucleosis (for over 6 months by now, complicated by bacterial infections). I look back at the wedding pictures and I can see how sick He was. He smiles in all the pictures, but you can see that He was not well. When I think of Him out in the garden for weeks, kneeling and sweating, trying to get the yard pristine for our daughter it makes me want to cry. He worked tirelessly, gave everything He had, and wasn't about to let anyone down.

He persevered...

...one more reason I love Him.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Welcoming

He told me to make room. His sister had battled breast cancer for a year. At her year mark she was deemed free and clear of the disease. A few months after her good news her husband died suddenly. Within a year she had dealt with multiple personal trials and moved from her home into an apartment. After a particularly trying time she called Him for support and advice. We went to her home together and after talking to her for a time noticed that she didn't look healthy. She probably had not been looking after herself and was tired. He encouraged her to see the doctor. Finally, after multiple promptings she relented. When He checked back to see what the doctor had to say she told Him her cancer had returned.


As soon as He hung up the phone He called to tell me (ask, tell, it really doesn't matter), that I needed to go get her and bring her and her teenage daughter home with us. Although I understood his alarmist reaction I told Him we needed to ask her if she wanted to come, and then make arrangements for her to move. Within a week she was settled in our home. It was a stretch for our large family to add more, but no one complained. I also assume it was hard on her and her daughter. Our families did not share the same household priorities, but He tried to maintain a consistent set of rules for our home, regardless of differing points of view. This was probably more difficult for her and even more so for her daughter. With the HIPPA laws, caring for His sister was a trial. She did not want anyone to know the seriousness of her condition and it caused real frustration for those trying to care for her.

Regardless of HIPPA (don't get me started, I understand the need for personal privacy, but there are instances like this when it may cause more harm to the patient to lack information that could help the caretaker take better care of them), the oncologist told Him the cancer was advanced, but that she would hopefully make it a few more months. Defying all odds, and I think through sheer will power on her part, she lived for three years beyond her prognosis (just to see her daughter graduate high school). It was difficult for Him to watch His sister suffer, and to try and make her comfortable. However, His biggest challenge was to run interception for her, trying to keep her safe, healthy, happy, and trouble free. Beyond the added physical strain and the financial burden placed on Him, He bore an enormous mental burden. This probably took the greatest toll on Him. But it was His immediate reaction to her returned illness that speaks to who He is. He did not hesitate to step up when she needed someone. He did not weigh the pro's and cons of bringing her home. And He never wavered in His decision once He had made it. He never regretted bringing her into our home either. I know she felt safe, cared for, and loved, because she told me so. The most telling mark of His character however, is that the decision to bring her into our home and care for her was an automatic gut reaction.

He made room...

...one more reason I love Him.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Worshiping

I previously noted He seeks to be a spiritual man. Some like to argue that spiritual and religious are separate and distinct ideologies. However, He cannot understand how either one can be divorced from the other. He believes that the purpose of organized religion facilitates the growth of our spiritual understanding, and the quest for a spiritual life will lead one to organized religion. If we search for God in our lives, and we try to become closer to Him, it is religion that offers a communal organization that helps us understand who we are and why we are here. In other words, a fundamental belief in God recognizes that we are not alone, we cannot progress alone, and we are foundationally organized with others. This then acknowledges that we can neither find greater spiritual understanding without working with and serving others, nor can we progress without having them serve us. In essence, organized religion creates a community of similarly minded believers who work together for enlightenment, and greater faith. It is through interaction with others that situations present themselves in which we find the greatest opportunities for spiritual growth. For these reasons He embraces His church membership as essential to His spiritual development.



He is not a Sunday only member either. He strives to daily live the tenants of His faith.  However, He believes Sunday worship is an outward acknowledgement of an inward commitment, and therefore embraces the Sabbath and sets it apart from other days. His week is full. He rises early every morning, and Sunday is no different. In our faith we do not have paid clergy, therefore we rely on each other for all aspects of our religious organization. He, like most faithful members spend many volunteer hours on the Sabbath serving others. After a long week, and a busy weekend He rises at 6:00 am in order to begin His Sunday service. Although He often complains about needing a break from work, He never complains about His religious obligation.  He loves God enough that He willingly and selflessly follows the letter of the commandment to serve others. But it is how He embraces the spirit of the law, manifested through His inner commitment on the Sabbath, that is the true mark of His faith.

He believes...

...one more reason I love Him.






Monday, June 24, 2013

Mucking

When He was a a young boy, and as a teenager, His father used to take Him along on community service projects. One He remembers with both fondness and loathing was helping out at the community pig farm that serviced under privileged families. Their service consisted of mucking out the styes. He still remembers the stench that could not be washed off His skin. He hated it. And yet, He loved it because He was with His dad. At the time He dreaded His father volunteering His services at the pig farm. There was nothing fun about it. It was difficult, dirty, and thankless work. However, in retrospect the memories of working alongside His father are priceless. He now understands that His father was teaching Him how to work and to serve others.


One of the joys of parenthood is that we get to inflict the same "cruel" activities on our children as our parents inflicted on us. It is however in wisdom that we understand the work was never intended as either cruel or meaningless. Rather, they often were trying to teach us valuable attributes that would help us grow into useful, empathetic, and conscientious members of society. This is how He sees the imposed service now. He has in fact taken our boys to help at the same pig farm, and they HATED it. They complained, they moaned, they pretended illness and injury, and used every excuse they could think of. Like His father, He teaches His sons the meaning of work, the importance of community service, and the forms of compensation that comes from both. He teaches them that community service has innumerable rewards that usually are not publicly recognized, but are richly rewarded internally. He teaches them that an honest days work is compensated by a paycheck, and that the size of the paycheck does not denote the work's worthiness. He believes all honest work contributes to a heathy and functioning society.

I realized how much His example impacted our son's lives a few years ago when my eldest son was living a  few states away from us. I received a letter in the mail from a woman who said she had met my son. She asked my son for my address so she could write to me. In the letter she explained how she came to meet my son. He was walking along the street one day when he saw two middle aged women moving into a home. They were unloading a moving van all by themselves. My son and his friend stopped and asked if they could help them. The writer expressed what a blessing my son was to them. They not only spent the whole day unloading the van, they returned early the next morning to finish helping the women move in. She told me how impressed she was with my son. She said that it was unusual that a young 20 year old man would stop what he was doing to help a perfect stranger. She thanked me for raising such a thoughtful, helpful, and courteous young man. She was especially impressed by what a hard worker he was. Although the letter and its contents were addressed to me, He is the one who set the example of hard work.

He serves alongside...

...one more reason I love Him.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

He has always wanted to be a father. I guess I should clarify that. Ever since we got married He has been very vocal about wanting to become a father and build a family. It is difficult to place ourselves in the mind of the other gender. From birth we grow from a combination of biologically gendered traits, social suggestions, and cultural conditioning. It is trite to say I have always wanted to be a mother. I believe I have gendered characteristics which have driven me to procreate, but also to nurture and love a child. I also believe that my culture has endorsed these gender driven roles as being desirable. So when I say He has always wanted to be a father, I wonder what kind of pull He has felt beyond the physical.  I don't think He deconstructs His feelings and urges in the same way that I do. I really don't think He cares why He wanted to become a father and have a family, a wife, a job, a mortgage. But I know that it is deeper than cultural conditioning.

His generation was the first in modern history who left their families, wives, children, and responsibilities at a greater rate than stayed with them. And whatever excuse is given, (some admittedly legitimate), the overwhelming reason is selfishness. Children mean sacrifice. It is impossible to bear, raise, nurture, teach, and support a family without sacrifice. It necessitates putting someone else's needs before your own. It often means going without things that society identifies as admirable. Did He think this through when He declared His desire for children? (I know I didn't). But it doesn't really matter if He thought it through, it matters that He sticks it out. It also matters that He wanted it in the first place.
I don't believe He was just supporting my desire for a family. He talked about having kids before we were engaged. He was the one who wanted a second one, (we'll just leave the third and fourth one out of it for this conversation). It is easy to want a baby, they are cute, and sweet and they don't talk back. They also don't damage your computer or wreck your car. However, they interrupt your sleep, deprive you of lazy Saturday mornings, derail romantic evenings, and generally drain your rainy day funds dry. So to choose a second one after you have experienced the reality of the first one means that you are serious about building a family. Even then you can find that things have snowballed and you suddenly find yourself wanting a break from it all. Whatever He has felt, He has never even hinted that He has wanted a break from His children, maybe a break from what they do, but never them. He misses them when He is away, and can't wait to see them. They make Him happy. They know He loves them and they feel wanted.

He embraces fatherhood...

...one more reason I love Him  

Monday, June 10, 2013

Eating

Food is a big part of our family's rituals. Not just special occasions like holidays and birthdays, but also  ordinary days. A lot of effort goes into planning and preparing meals. I have always felt time spent has been justified by the time that we sit at the table and talk. We talk while cooking, we talk while eating, then we talk some more after we have finished our meal, and then the talk continues while doing the dishes. The conversation has evolved over the years. It has usually been dictated by the stages our children were in. When they were babies, we talked about them. When they were toddlers we were often amused by their chatter during our meals. When they were in grade school we discussed what was happening in school. When they were in high school the talk usually was an information panel on who was doing what and when. As our children are slowly moving on and out, talk now consists of keeping informed of their lives. However, as they have matured, mealtime topics have also become a place to discuss social issues, politics, religion, and usually everything besides what is deemed polite conversation.

These rituals have followed the pattern that I was raised in. His family was never as vocal at meal time, or sat around the table as long as mine did. When we were first married He was a little scared of my family dinner time rituals, as they often became a cacophony of various voices that all had strong opinions, and wanted to be heard. We talked over, around, and through each other, but everyone felt heard. Even though there are theoretically opposing arguments, no one's opinion is ever discounted. He has come to love this style of family mealtime, and the rituals revolving around it. We have assimilated this style of mealtime in our own home.


With so many diverse schedules of an older family, mealtimes that include everyone become further and further apart. Early Saturday morning is usually the only time when most of us are home at the same time. I need a break from my weekly grind sometimes, and Saturday is my day off from cooking. When the kids were little this often meant cereal, (which they thought was a treat). But as they have grown older Saturday breakfast has become His way of keeping our family mealtime ritual going. He gets up Saturday mornings and makes a full breakfast. This often has meant waking up some not so happy participants. However, they do it for Him. He will try to schedule breakfast time according to the first one who has to leave for the day, (this means some return to bed after they eat). I don't think it's the food he craves so much, as it is the company and conversation of His family that He seeks.

He nurtures the conversation...

...one more reason I love Him.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pleasing

We had a spring storm. The winds blew for two days and made a filthy mess with scattered tree leaves and blossoms. The storm subsided by early Saturday evening. We spend most Sunday afternoons on our patio just relaxing. When I looked out the patio doors I knew that unless it was cleaned up there would be no relaxing for me. As we had been gone all day I felt an extra weariness wash over me anticipating that one extra thing to do before I went to bed.


I like things tidied up before I go to bed. His attitude is that it can wait until morning. My theory about why we approach the now or later debate from opposite sides is because in the morning He is gone to work, and whatever chore was left from the night before rests solely on my shoulders. So in actuality, He doesn't have to do it the next day, while I do. So for me it is really a question of do I want to wake up to a waiting chore, or do I want to start the day with a clean slate? I prefer a clean slate. In this particular instance there was the added dilemma of the next morning being the Sabbath. This is not a day we do chores at our house. Therefore, If we wanted to spend the day outside, it would have to be amid the mess caused by the aftermath of the storm. I am sure it seems petty to some people, but I can not relax in this atmosphere. I know it seemed petty to Him, because we had this very conversation staring out the patio doors. I told Him that it bothered me enough that I would take care of it, and I meant it. We both had a few things we needed to do that evening so we went about our respective tasks.

A little while later as I was in the house finishing my chores I heard the leaf blower outside. I looked outside and there He was blowing the debris off the patio. After He bagged the leaves, He swept up what was left over and rearranged the patio furniture. As I recount this I know it doesn't sound like very much, but knowing how tired we both were that evening, and how much we were anticipating getting in bed after a long day, I felt it was a very grand gesture disguised as a simple token. I was anticipating finishing the last task of cleaning up the patio, but He took that chore upon Himself and relieved me of it. He did something very simple - not because it was necessary - Rather, He did it just to please me.

He did it for me...

...one more reason I love Him.
 

Monday, May 27, 2013

Pulling

He is the baby of His family. His siblings agreed that He was coddled because of it. However, He doesn't remember being indulged in any way. Maybe that is because we don't see those things ourselves. If I were to believe that He were though, I guess I could count maybe nine or ten years where the said babying would have occurred, (my reasoning is that after 5th grade little boys grow into big boys, and their innocent demeanor looses its sweetness). Therefore, at the most His cocoon only lasted for ten years, (this needs to be said because siblings keep score far into adulthood). Studies also suggest that youngest children have fewer rules placed on them, thus making them more likely to shirk accountability and become less reliable. Well people are also more complex than studies may suggest.

It was during college that His position in His family transitioned into the eldest in terms of responsibility. When His father needed someone to help with family issues, he asked Him. He could be counted on to show up and do what needed to be done. His willingness to take on these family responsibilities began a slow slide into where His siblings began calling Him when they needed help. While His father was ill with cancer, He took it on Himself to intercept any problems from reaching His father. During the same time His mother turned to Him when she needed help with some serious issues that her husband would have usually taken care of. This was a very stressful time for His family.




Unfortunately, quite a few family issues cropped up during this very taxing time. He took care of them. Whatever it entailed. However, His family responsibilities did not end with the death of His father, as catastrophes are always looming on the horizon, (and which continue to creep up year after year). The thing that both annoys and impresses me is that His helming the family problem ship has continued far beyond the limits of His ten year stint as the baby who was coddled. If He had a penance to carry it out it was fulfilled a long time ago. He didn't want the position as head of the family, but it was placed on His shoulders by unspoken mutual family consent, and I have watched Him take it on with confidence, tact and equanimity. Somebody had to help with the load, and He put His head through the oxbow.

He bears the yoke...

...one more reason I love Him.

 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Applying

Someone thwarted His advancement at work in the most malicious (staying true to the definition of petty and spiteful) way possible. They did not just frustrate His promotion they conspired to damage His reputation. I was obviously naive, but I could not believe that an adult professional employed such machinations to advance themselves. I guess I had just never encountered it. However, His character was found to be irreproachable.

When He related all that was going on I was infuriated. I was mainly upset because the actions of someone who was openly conniving would even be taken seriously. The environment was sullied to the point where He decided He did not want to be part of an organization rife with pettiness. It resulted in Him slowly exiting the company. It seemed at the time that dishonesty was being rewarded, as the purpose was to get Him out of the running.


I am sure this happens to a lot of people, with various outcomes. I wanted Him to stay and defend His reputation for His honors sake. However, He said that the atmosphere encouraged discontent, and those involved would deal with natural consequences (hypocritical and disingenuous management creates hypocritical and disingenuous employees). This has proven to be true-but this is beside the point I am trying to make.

What surprised me was His attitude toward the offender. Of course when it was fresh and raw He was upset. However, He never retaliated in any way. He didn't even point out the obvious collusion. He chose to not stoop to that level. After it was over He seemed forgiving. When He encounters them in public He is courteous and even friendly. This, however, is not what impresses me either. Rather it is how He speaks and acts in private about the incident. He rarely brings the past offense up, I do, (I am having a hard time letting it go-even after years). When I do He does not harbor any ill will. He genuinely applies clemency. Integrity, moral character, and tolerance is often a charade.

He is authentic...

...one more reason I love Him.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Painting

I get annoyed by His idiosyncrasies sometimes. I have wondered if He has had the same feelings towards mine. I believe that some quirky, distinctive personality characteristics are innate. I fully acknowledge a certain, shall we gently say, vexatious personal characteristic. It revolves around aesthetic values; arrangement, placement, line, shape, and color. I can eye straight lines, create near true geometric shapes, and recognize compatible hues and tones. The most problematic aspect of my condition is sensing minuscule discrepancies in horizontal and vertical exactness, which I am compelled to fix. He has had many years to acclimate to my behavior. In the beginning, when I said we needed to rehang, move, straighten, or repaint something that we had just barely finished doing, He would complain that it wasn't necessary. However, my inner turmoil would require me to re-do it on my own. Eventually He decided that it was easier to accommodate my mental aesthetic harmony than fight it.

I had been looking for the perfect gold color for my bedroom walls. I painted them four times during the course of one  month. Not just one, but three coats of paint for each color. Although each application technically matched the gold hue I was looking for it seemed "off" somehow. One day I decided that what would satisfy my harmonious color craving was a true metallic gold color. That afternoon when He came home from work expecting to finally sleep in His bed that night, He found me instead applying a fifth color choice. Painting with metallic paint requires quite a bit more time and effort that ordinary latex paint. In fact, it took two base coats, three metallic coats, and two coats of glaze (which is a whole different process altogether). However, when it was finished it "felt" right (and it absolutely glows in the sunlight). 


It has been a little over six years and I am ready for a change. I do not expect to struggle with the same color issues as before since I am just painting the walls a cream color. He however, knows that there is no such thing as just one cream color. In fact, He has been so well prepped by my pickiness that He knows that the endless variations of "whites" are more troubling to me than any other color ( I can see the yellow, or blue in them). When I told Him it was time to paint again all He said was "really?" (with just the slightest sigh). He is now quietly (the optimum word here), anticipating not just painting, but picture rehanging, furniture moving, rug re-rolling, and all the minute adjusting that these imply.

He quietly endures...

...one more reason I love Him.       
     

Monday, May 6, 2013

Grilling

Danger came knocking on our door in the form of a 16 year old boy. There is always a first time. In this instance it happened on a warm May evening. This moment had been building for a few years. At first we just discussed the inevitable, which He usually dismissed as too far off in the future to warrant any real thought. But as the time drew near He became increasingly agitated every time I broached the subject. Finally, when the subject became unavoidable He insisted that we could stop Danger dead in his tracks. Mmmm. At this point I explained that He was being unreasonable and that He now must revert to plan B. Plan B had been incubating in His mind for many years. It was actually a variation of the plan used on Him by my father, which He had decided was a good plan (as it had been effective in its outcome). However, He was going to take plan B up a few notches in the (desperate), hope that it may curtail any unforeseen Danger in the future.



This particular Spring evening, as Danger was already on his way, I had spent the last two hours helping our eldest daughter prepare. We were instructed that when the doorbell rang He would answer the door while we waited in her bedroom. Danger rang the bell. He answered it (a fairly intimidating figure), and invited him in. Although I did not witness the actual event (or what my girls call the grilling), I can imagine what took place. Danger sat dressed in his finest rented tuxedo, a boxed red corsage in his hand, while He proceeded to inform him exactly who he was taking out of our house that evening; His baby, His precious charge, His adored treasure, the one He had protected, nurtured, guarded, and loved for 16 years. It was made clear to Danger that if he wanted to accept the responsibility for the care of His daughter that evening, he would be held accountable. Danger was instructed how to treat her, how to protect her, and when to return with her. I am sure His instruction was polite, but I am also sure He intended that Danger leave intimidated.

Many a time Danger has come knocking, not for one but two daughters. Our girls have professed mortification at times for His insistence on interviewing Danger. Nevertheless, His interviews have also ensured that His daughters know that He is watching out for them. When the girls reached 18 His routine for meeting Danger at the door eased up a bit (however, it did not stop). Now Danger is not greeted at the door until his third consecutive visit. His theory is that three times means there is a possibility that Danger may stick around for a while, even permanently. He has run Danger off before. And while it may have upset the girls at the time, in hindsight they have been grateful. Inevitably, the day came when Danger wanted to stay. By this time He had had multiple "visits" with said Danger. He (reluctantly), realized that if Danger was willing to pass through His gauntlet again, just maybe Danger would be worthy to stay. He was once called Danger, and He knows who he is from a different perspective. He knew the impact that my father's interview had on Him, so I have trusted Him on this one. His girls know that they are being watched over and cared for, whether they like it or not.

He uses plan B...

...one more reason I love Him.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Dishing

When we were first married we did not have a dishwasher and we had to wash all the dishes by hand. At that time we were both working and He was still in school. Our meals were fairly uncomplicated and meal preparation fell to the one whose schedule allowed it. Besides sharing in cooking we also shared in the clean-up. This was fairly enjoyable as we were still in the stage of "playing house" (you know, when life is uncomplicated, there are no parenting duties, and there are minimal mouths to feed and no nutritional demands). I guess you could say that our serious meals began when we started a family (literally from conception). It was then when I took over as family chef.

I am a stay-at-home mom (I hate this politically correct term, I much prefer homemaker, because I feel that describes my job more accurately). As such, I feel that my schedule facilitates cooking more readily. However, I also love cooking and baking, and I can stir up a mess of pots with the best of them. However, I hate doing dishes. Planning and preparing a well rounded, nutritionally rich, and delicious meal requires quite a bit of effort. I have often thought how nice it would be to walk into your own home and smell freshly baked bread, see the table set, and all you have to do is sit down and eat (only in my dreams). I am not complaining about being the one who does the cooking, I just have wondered how nice (and easy), that would be.


His mother was a good cook, and I know He grew up eating healthy, well planned, hot meals. However, He also lived on His own and cooked for Himself. During that time He probably realized how good He had it at home. I think that is one reason He has always been very appreciative of my cooking efforts, even with their accompanying mess. Like I said, when I look at the aftermath of preparing dinner my heart sinks at the sight of all those dirty dishes calling my name. Thats when He proves that His gratitude is not just in words. If I cook, I don't clean up. He recruits the kids and ensures the dishes get done.

He washes...

...one more reason I love Him.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

Volunteering

A few years ago He was feeling ill. The doctor noted that He had a low white blood count, but He could not find a cause. He was given a rundown of tests. This went on for over a year. I urged Him to see a Hematologist (whose practice incidentally is often combined with Oncology). After His fathers previous diagnosis with cancer He was hesitant. However, He finally became so run down He relented. We went to the Oncologist/Hematologist together bracing for the worst.

The doctor ran a battery of tests. However, she was baffled. There was no indication of cancer, a virus, autoimmune disorders, infections, congenital diseases, or any kind of blood disease. When we met with her to review the test results, she asked Him some very direct questions trying to find maybe a behavioral pattern that would explain the problem. Finally, she asked Him if there was any reason why He might think His blood count could be so low? He could not think of any. Her last comment was, "it looks like something is just sapping your blood".



He used to be a volunteer fireman (volunteer just denotes "on call" rather than untrained). Regularly His department would give blood to the Red Cross. As a first responder He had witnessed many accidents and recognized the need for donations. It was a community service. He always signed up when our church had a blood drive too. He wasn't just a "regular" giver in the periodic sense, but year after year. He was on the LIST. He is O+ the universal donor. When the red cross needs donations, their first line of offense is a list of past volunteers, from whom they call and solicit donations. Its murky, but I am vaguely aware of them calling for Him once in a while and leaving messages. Apparently, they called Him a lot. And, they did not bother to keep track of how often He gave. As His confession unfolded the cause of His illness became clear. His blood was being sapped almost monthly. To mine, and the doctors amazement He had not made the connection. He excused His behavior by personalizing His contribution. Someones son, daughter, wife, mother, cousin, playmate, outfielder, swim coach, viola instructor, whatever, needed HIS blood. How could He not answer the call as an O+ hero? After four months of treatment returning His blood count to near normal He is now on the honor system to only give blood once every six months.

They needed Him...

one more reason I love Him.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Reversal

He is the youngest in His family and His dad was older when he was born. When He was a young boy He remembers always thinking His dad was the strongest man alive. He thought his father was invincible. He was very close with His father. They were compatriots. He followed him around, He wanted to be just like him. Even when He grew up and moved out they always found time to be together. His dad called Him Pedro. He doesn't know why-its not even close to His real name. However, it proved to be prophetic. Without getting lost in the meaning of names it is a derivative of Peter, which has been assigned the historical association with "rock".



 Reality came sooner than expected. He was only 32 when His father was diagnosed with advance staged bone cancer. The doctor said that he had already had it for many years (he had just ignored the symptoms, or passed them off on getting older). The family was prepared for his health to decline rapidly. During his fathers battle with, acceptance of, and finally submission to the disease He was unfaltering. His father started chemotherapy first. Soon a tumor was found at the base of his skull on the spine. Radiation took a nasty toll on his already weakened condition. In all, His father struggled through ten months of progressively depilitating pain and decay. He was by his father's side every single day.

Its not just that He was there, He was his rock. Their roles had been reversed. Where He had once called His father whenever He needed advice, help, rescuing, understanding, acceptance, and solace, He now accepted the elder role. It must have been overwhelming to his father to become helpless, and it was inevitable that those frustrations came to surface. However, He never lost His patience with him and always treated him with respect. As His father slowly lost his mobility His mother became increasingly incapable of physically caring for him, and what had once been daily visits became twice daily (and sometimes more). The day came when He held His father as he left this world. Finally, father-son roles had come full circle. His first real test of manhood was when He became the man his father had been to Him.

He passed...

...one more reason I love Him.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Kneeling

I was raised in a religious family. My parents encouraged me to marry someone of my own faith. For me, marrying a man who has the same beliefs as I do has been the single most important factor in maintaining a successful marriage (I would also say it has been the single most important factor in staying married). It is hard enough to stay married in our easy exit society without the added stress of differing religious views, beliefs, and customs battling each other. However, religious beliefs alone are not capable of keeping a family together. Rather, it is the practice of said beliefs that ensure He and I continue to work on our marriage.

I have said before that His appearance was deceiving. I guess that means He didn't "look" like a religious kid (if there is a certain look one can have). Nonetheless, before leaving for a date one evening, a few months before we got engaged, He asked if we could pray together before we went out. This should not have bothered me as I said personal prayers and my family prayed together. It wasn't that I didn't know He prayed, I assumed He did. I was just surprised by His request. We did. It was the first time I had ever heard Him pray about us as a couple. At the time, I felt a little silly sitting in His car in My parents driveway praying. However, in retrospect I must have realized that He wanted what was best for us, and for me. I also understood that He was looking for divine guidance in our relationship and was not ashamed to admit it.

I assume, like me, there have been times when He has struggled with prayer. There were probably times when it was easier than others, or, I should say times when it was need more than others. Like me, I am sure He has spiritually felt either feast or famine, and it is usually during these times when prayer seems the most difficult. However, He has consistently been a prayerful man. He prays in solitude, with our family, with me, and at times individually with our children. I know He earnestly prays for guidance in His role as a father. He prays for people He cares about. I am also sure He prays for me. This is how His practice of His faith has created the person He is today, not a perfect one, but one that is becoming. It takes a big man to kneel.

He prays...

...one more reason I love Him.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Meeting

Consistency is the hardest part of parenting. We set out with good plans to raise our kids, but parenting doesn't work in theory alone. It takes action. It takes day after day, month after month, year after year persistence toward a goal. The hoped for prize at the end is an adult child who holds the values you believe are important, is independent, self reliant, and just plain good. I recognize that even the parents who are diligent in teaching their children those practices they believe are good are still raising unique individuals who have free agency, and sometimes their children choose to go against what they have been taught. However, a parent who has been a consistent and diligent parent has fewer regrets than those who have not. And when you send a child out into the world who has made good choices so far, parents have a sense of peace that they have done all that was in their power to do.

At the beginning of every school year, He meets with each child individually. He asks them if they have anything they are concerned about in their lives, if they are dealing with any problems, and if there is anything that He can help them with. He also brings up any concerns that either one of us have. He reiterates the importance of the values we have tried to teach them, and addresses any problem areas they are struggling with. He stresses that they can bring any concern they might have to us and we will help them without question. He emphasizes the importance of being part of a family, and how they are a part of a whole. He tells them of the things we have noticed about them that we are proud of. He leaves them with the knowledge that we love them unconditionally and always will.

He does this consistently every year. It has proven to be valuable to our family. These meetings have stopped problems before they became too big to backtrack. They have given us insight into how our children think we could be better parents. They have created a dialog between parents and children, parent and parent, and child and child. The kids have come to look forward to this meeting. There have been times when they even asked when they were going to have their meeting (just in case He forgot). We have a child in High School, children in college, and a married child, and He still meets with each one of them (even our son-in-law), at the beginning of each school year. These meetings let each child know that He loves them, is watching out for them, and that He is there for them if they need Him. He takes His parenting responsibilities seriously.

He is consistent...

...one more reason I love Him.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Digging

Spring is coming. In our climate zone spring lasts for such a short time (we have a loooong winter and a loooong summer, but spring and fall seem like just a spit in the wind). Bright green blades are beginning to shoot up amid the brown drab, hibernated grass left by winter storms. Tulip and daffodil bulbs are starting to peek through the soil. I love spring. It brings a much needed glimmer of hope after a long cold, dark winter. However, spring also means yard work (which I don't love). I don't necessarily mind it, and I do it, but it takes an enormous amount of time and effort. My dream is to wake every morning to an immaculately manicured yard brimming profusely with flowers (with no effort on my part).

He loves spring. He also loves yard work. He can't wait for the first semi-seasonal day so He can brush the dirt off those little green shoots. It is all very exciting and hopeful in the first flush of new bloom; digging in soft dirt, planting annuals, pruning old wood off the flowering trees. We get out the planter boxes and fill them with a new color combination of flowers, retrieve the patio furniture from the shed and sweep it free of cobwebs, and tidy up all the flower beds. Finally, when the yard is freshly groomed, we are ready to spend the summer relaxing on the patio. Hmmmmm. That is my fantasy. Reality is much harsher than that.



After the flush of spring has worn off, summer looms long ahead. The hot, scorching dog days of summer, when the last thing anyone wants to do is yard work seem endless. Grudgingly I force myself up unnaturally early to avoid the heat of the day, and weed those flower beds that mock me. By mid July I hate my yard and I completely understand the attraction of condominiums. I know it is semantics, but for me gardening and weeding shouldn't go together. The first implies industry, the second drudgery. Just when I think I am sincerely going to weep while contemplating weeding one more blazing day, He takes it over. He says it is therapeutic, pulling, eradicating, and annihilating those persistent weeds. As summer reaches its nastiest temperatures He can be found on weekends, early in the morning, mid afternoon, and even into the evening still at it. My energizer bunny of yard word. I fade out, as He keeps going.

He weeds...

...one more reason I love Him.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Worrying

I admit that He worries about things that I do not. Parents spend a lot of time worrying. Between the fear of monstrous, unnamed disease epidemics to "normal" development, it seems like worrying fills the majority of "down" parenting time (by this I mean the time not physically caring for them). With quite a few years under our belts in this department it has become clear that the worries that preoccupy us are categorically divided. I don't know if our division of parental worrying represent the average couple or not. However, we both feel that our worries are the greater ones (the ones that really matter).

We like to camp, usually in the mountains near our home. We have a tent trailer that offers more convenience with small children. We planned a camping trip one summer by a lake a few hours drive from home. As we set up camp right above the shore line, I worried the whole time about children wandering too close to the water. I felt like I was on guard the whole time. It was not relaxing. In fact, the only time I felt at ease was at night when we were tucked inside for the evening. On the last night of our adventure a light rain had started as we were finishing dinner. We sent the kids inside the tent trailer while we cleaned up. The rain steadily increased as we prepared for bed. As it was still fairly early, I read aloud the book that I had brought. It was The Watsons go to Birmingham (we were still in the first half of the book and it kept the kids and husband laughing, and kept their minds off the rain pelting the aluminum roof). All the while a little storm was brewing outside. Finally we settled down to sleep. I fell asleep to the soothing sounds of rain drops. Apparently I slept like a log.


He however, WORRIED the whole night long. According to Him, while His wife and children were somewhere in dreamland, He was manning the helm during the storm of a lifetime. I cannot corroborate any of this, but the trailer was on the verge of lifting off (heading toward the Emerald City no doubt). The tent base was rocking, the springs were groaning, the tarps were flapping, all as the water was rising around us. Meanwhile slumber enveloped my maternal concerns. In the morning, as He recounted the near demise of our family the night before, I laughed at His seemingly serious tone. How could I have slept through such a perilous storm while my children's lives hung in the balance? According to Him, how can I sleep so soundly during any and every storm we ever encounter? Because He watches out for danger in the night. He worries for the both of us.

He mans the helm...

...one more reason I love Him.



Monday, March 11, 2013

Express

I'm not one that believes fairy tales are to blame for women's unrealistic expectations of romance. I'm not even sure it is lead by pop culture. Rather, it may be that those things are driven by some biological/physiological quest for endorphins. Maybe the need to feel good precedes the expectations. Either way, I have been disappointed when He failed at romantic gestures. It was usually tied to a major event: birthday, anniversary, valentines day etc. My hopes would be high- and then the ordinary. Not that He completely failed; there were flowers, or chocolates, or dinner etc. These are all very appreciated because they show thought and effort. He has, however, surprised me.


I had the flu. The real flu. I was sick, sick, sick. It was winter. Not the pretty December winter with new white snow, but the tail end of January winter that is dingy and bleak. It was Saturday morning and I had been in bed for days. I was just beginning to feel like I was rejoining the living when He came into the bedroom that afternoon and went to the bedroom window. Fresh snow had fallen in the night and the sun had popped out of the dismal sky. He called me over to the window to see how pretty it was. In the pasture behind our yard He had written in the snow "I Love You" in 6' tall letters. I smiled, inside and out. I imagined Him trudging through the shin deep snow, hopping to begin the next letter so as not to make a mark where it shouldn't be.

It was romantic because it was so unexpected. It didn't cost anything, but it took some thought and effort. Isn't this what a "grand" gesture is, unexpected, surprising, and out of the ordinary? It was a very simple thing to do, and yet it made me feel loved. Truly loved. Because of it I began to notice small, previously unrecognized gestures of love. Big, expensive, and contrived can be great and I like that too, but if I had to choose between the two I would choose the simple, unassuming expression of love. Even though it was covered up by new snow, trampled, and then melted, I can still see it every time I look out the window. That is my fairy tale.

He wrote...

...one more reason I love Him.

Monday, March 4, 2013

SOS

He likes His kids. I like my kids. However, as a full time homemaker with a husband who has two jobs, I had approximately 90% more face to face time with our children than He did. It goes with out saying (although obviously I am going to say it), that all that quality time I spent with the kids left me frazzled sometimes. At the time I felt that I was part of the sisterhood of single mothers. I put the kids to bed alone, got them up alone, went to their activities alone, wrestled with bath time alone, wrestled with illness alone, and so much more. Often I commiserated with the tales of woe from single mothers I knew. In hind sight, I realize that they must have been thinking I was cracked. Because in reality I was not alone. I knew that despite His physical absence I had His support. In many ways. I knew that I was not alone. I knew that I had a back-up.


I joke that its good I didn't have a cell phone when our kids were little, or He would have been inundated with sos messages all day long (its so easy to text your frustration-it offers a kind of release). Needless to say, the lack of instant messaging allowed my frustrations to build up on significantly stressful days. There were days (to my credit not many), when He walked in the door, was handed a child, and then watch me walk out the same door He had just come in. He didn't complain. He probably felt a little guilty that He wasn't there more. However, His reactions to my pleas for relief are only 10% of the story.

Usually when He got home from work He would immediately offer Himself as the children's distraction. (Of course this is after He changed His clothes, or washed His hands, or whatever He needed to do.) Looking back, I now see that I didn't even know if He had had a bad day, was tired, worried, stressed, or dealing with a myriad of other personal issues. He got down on the floor and let the kids climb on Him. He took them outside and kept them busy. He entertained them while I had a "moment". Its not that I don't think parenting should be equal, but I doubt it rarely is. Given a little perspective I realize that He may have anticipated that coming home from work would be a refuge, a place of rest for the weary, and a balm for the soul. But often what he found was a stopped up disposal and a broken sprinkler head. He could also smell the faint fumes of maternal exasperation and frustration. Did He know I was counting down the minutes to when I could hear His car door shut anticipating His answer to my sos?

He rescued...

...one more reason I love Him.    

Monday, February 25, 2013

Heated

Thermoregulation is the correct term. It is our ability to control our internal temperature. Without going into biology or physiology, it must be made clear that there is scientific proof that men retain more body heat than women. I have done a lot of personal research (the keyboard kind), on this subject. The reason being is that He seems genuinely amazed by my body's inability to keep my hands and feet at an even semi tepid state. After so many years of His perplexity at the frigid condition of my extremities, I sometimes feel as if I am biologically handicapped. But then I remember that sooooo many of my female compatriots are plagued by this same condition. However, I am suspicious that He is convinced that it is some kind of conspiratorial campaign intended to further befuddle and baffle His comprehension of "me". I hate having cold hands and feet. HATE. It is not only uncomfortable, it can also be socially embarrassing. I feel like I am constantly apologizing to other people for my icy hands.


On the other hand, His hands seem abnormally hot to me. Hot, not warm. He has hot feet too. His body temperature always feels degrees hotter than mine (although in reality our internal temperatures remain similar). This seems so unfair to me. To His credit, despite being perplexed by our thermal differences, He has always been an accommodating hand and foot warmer. His hands are much bigger than mine, and as long as He holds my hand in His it stays toasty. He really is my hero when He offers Himself up as my personal heating pad. He braces when I greet Him with a hug, and He knows, as I inch his shirt out of His belt, that two icebergs are about to simultaneously embrace his flanks (apparently very sensitive anatomy). However, He never recoils. In bed He will sometimes unconsciously flinch when His feet come into contact with mine. But just when I think my feet are destined to be exiled for the night in Siberia, He will turn over, expecting my poor frozen toes to inch their way up His back and take refuge on His Saharan heaven.

He takes it like a man...

...one more reason I love Him    


   

Monday, February 18, 2013

Half Way There

He started working outside for His first full time job after we were married. He would rise about 5:30 a.m. Its hardest to get up on cold, dark, winter mornings. We lived in an old Victorian house where ice formed on the inside of the windows in winter. The sheet linoleum covering the kitchen floor was an added nasty wake-up call. Needless to say, I did not get up to see Him off.

As hard as my responsibilities have been caring for our children, they rarely involved waking alone, getting ready in the dark, and leaving my family tucked in their beds. Many mornings, (if I am semi-awake), when I hear His alarm go off, I roll over and snuggle up to His back to get warm. After a minute He slowly sets up on the edge of the bed. I can imagine how tempting it is to just lie back down and pull the covers up. But He doesn't.


Winter mornings are the least forgiving. Now the rule is, the worse the weather the earlier He has to get up. On the coldest, most unforgiving mornings He often leaves the house by 4:30 a.m. Meanwhile, I roll over and hunker down.

He gets up...

...one more reason I love Him.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Drive

We are often judged by the things we have. And sadly, our self worth is often determined by the same measure. This social categorizing does not discriminate between genders, however, men have been judged for a longer period of time by the cars they drive than women have. Even confident men succumb to the siren call of the "status car". I don't think it is just about ego. It may be just as much about feeling that they deserve something that symbolizes how hard they have worked. If that is the case it becomes a symbol of validation more than a vindication.

I drive a nicer car than He does. I always have. When we were first married He had enough cash to buy us a new car. We actually bought it two weeks before we got married. We went to the dealer where I picked it off the trailer that had just arrived on the lot that morning. It was a brand-spanking-new 1982, Mazda GLC Hatchback (of course it was light blue). He had transferred the money into our new joint account, and I wrote a check out for the total price. He drove it to my home, gave me the key, and went home in His '52 Plymouth that he was still driving since high school. It really became my car (until I got a new one and turned it over to Him). It was a great car, (I think it is still running around somewhere).


This pattern of car buying has continued throughout our marriage. When we needed, (or wanted), a new car we would go to the dealer, I would pick it out, He would drive it home, and I would then take possession of it. The cars got both bigger and nicer. It doesn't really matter what make or model they were, or even what price point "nicer" is to us. Nicer translates into newer; newer translates into more expensive, and more expensive translates into safer. As He sees it, whatever car I drive also carries His family, and the safety of His family comes before self gratification. I am sure the sirens call for Him. Just as well, I know He must need, or want, both the vindication and validation that a car brings most men in our society. However, I don't shuttle our children around anymore, and I still drive a nicer car than He does.

He turns the keys over...

...one more reason I love Him.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Freedom

He bought His first motorcycle when He was fourteen. He saved the money and paid for it Himself. I think it was a Yamaha. He had the full get-up, helmut, shirt and pads. Everything was bright yellow and black. He even had a cap that looked like a cross between a tam and a beret. He lived in the foothills of the city, and His street bordered the high-line between paved streets and dirt trails. He could effectively ride to the end of His street and be in the dirt. The foothills had an infamous hill called "Molly's. The vertical climb was a little over 50 yards at an almost 60 degree incline. The other side dropped down at about an 80 degree angle (almost a straight drop). This was His pre-heicopter parent, fourteen year old playground.


In other words, He started on an unmonitored adrenaline diet at a fairly young and carefree age. His taste in bikes graduated as He grew older, and I am sure after a few tumbles He became a more cautious driver. When we were dating, and then when we were newly married we would ride for fun. No helmets. No boots. (I was scared of the exhaust pipe though so I always wore long pants, but I had plenty of bare ankles.) He was always a careful driver with me on the back. However, it is difficult to convince me that His early diet hadn't instilled a taste for speed and danger--and that He indulged in it when I wasn't looking.

I don't think it was right away, but pretty soon after we started our family I told Him I couldn't deal with Him riding a motorcycle. Kids do that to you. You begin to understand that you now answer to someone else-your children. You replace your wants with their needs. And what they need is a dad in one piece. So I demanded that He give up riding. I told Him that it was selfish to engage in such a dangerous past time at the expense of our security. I still don't understand the love affair between a guy and a motorcycle, but I think it may have to do with giving Him a sense of freedom. Maybe, for a few short miles, He feels like a carefree fourteen year old on a yellow Yamaha. He made excuses and He complained, but He gave it up. Thats it, He stopped doing something He loved.

He loved me more...

...one more reason I love Him.      

Monday, January 28, 2013

Principles

Whatever anybody says extended family members affect couples lives. When we were married my youngest brothers were only 5 years old. We lived fairly close to my family, and we would often watch them when my parents traveled. He loved to rough-house with the boys, and I think their upbringing would have been much more sedate if He had not been in the picture.

He spent a lot of time with them. If He had a Saturday free, He would often take them on adventures. I used to think He mostly offered my brothers a testosterone outlet. I am sure they never discussed literature, culture, or philosophy while together (my dad took care of that pretty well). In fact He is not what you would call a conversationalist. He has to have something to say to bother with a discussion. Since He is part of their earliest memories, they are as much brothers, as I am their sister. They spent less time at our house as they grew older, but He maintained a constant presence in the lives of my brothers.


My brothers grew up and left home. After they were on their own, He received a letter from one of them. In it he expressed heartfelt appreciation for all He had done for him and told Him what a great example He was to him. What touched me most about the letter was that he said out of all the people in his life, He taught him what integrity was. I don't remember my brother's words exactly, but they had a powerful impact on me. Sometimes I think He is a little rough around the edges (and I like that about Him). I realized maybe I hadn't given Him credit for impacting their lives in a more principled way. Virtue (as defined by the ancient Greeks), comes in all shapes and sizes, even with a five o'clock shadow.

He set an example...

...one more reason I love Him.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Toiling

I understand how someone can slide into a life. Events happen, you make choices specific to the time, and the choices accumulate until you find yourself in a life. That's not what happened to me. I think I represent the first female generation to feel that we were completely free to choose whether to have a career outside or inside our home while raising a family. As a young woman I had aspirations for a successful and fulfilling career (one where a lot of travel is required), urban living, (where no yard existed), and a family (whose purpose was to compliment my achievements). However, when I found that I was pregnant (after purposely trying), I had an overwhelming desire to be home full time with my baby. It was a choice, and I approached it as a career option.

I'm not sure how He really felt about that-but He said He wanted me to do what I wanted to do. He had not found His career yet, but before the baby came He found a job that would support our little family (He also kept the part time job that got Him through college). As our family grew He changed jobs hoping to get ahead. He also added another part time job. Meanwhile, I was carving out a career as a homemaker. I meticulously planned homemaking and mothering goals. I am good at my job, and it has given me both satisfaction and fulfillment.


What began as His "just for now" has evolved into two full-time jobs. He works hard to support our family. That sounds trite. It fails to express how I feel about the words "hard" and "support". My children and I are housed, clothed, warm, fed, comfortable, and safe. We may not  have everything we want, but we have everything we need. While I chose my career, He really did not. Of course He made His choices, and He could have made ones that would have sent Him on a different career path. However, He made his choices based on what He believed would take the best care of His family at the time. Those choices have resulted in what has become a life of long days, missing out on children's milestones, working holidays, and fantasizing about napping. And I think He would do it again.

He works for us...

...one more reason I love Him.       

Monday, January 14, 2013

Belonging

It's self evident that creating a baby requires two people. However, after delivery it feels like the effort of birthing said baby is a one person project. I assume that I am not alone when I say that those on the female side of the equation sometimes have a somewhat self-satisfied feeling of superiority, as it pertains to feeling that you alone sacrificed the most towards the gestation and birthing processes. In fact, I wonder if while we are wallowing in our maternal fecundity we realize that our paternal collaborator is feeling a little...irrelevant.

Although I was exhausted after giving birth, I knew that I had accomplished something profound. I would not assume to say how He felt. I only know what He did.


After everyone was cleaned up, after all our family had left, after we asked the nurse to leave our new little miracle in my room for the night, and after she was changed and fed, He climbed in the hospital bed beside me. He felt part of our little production and He wasn't going home to sleep in our big comfy, quiet bed. Instead He slept beside me, on about 12" of mattress, on top of the covers, with a bar in his back, and not moving so as not to disturb me (this alone qualifies Him for man of the year). He did not want to be an adjunct. He intended to be a part of the whole.

He slept beside me...

...one more reason I love him.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Resting

I gained a substantial amount of weight during pregnancy. Not an unhealthy amount, but more than average. My beginning point was probably a little under the average weight, and it came off within a year, so I believed my obstetrician when he said it was "healthy". I didn't even look pregnant until I was 20 weeks, then I gained it steady and fast.

I'm long waisted, so that probably accounted for not showing soon. However, it also meant I carried the baby really low. This made sleeping very uncomfortable. I could not lie comfortably on my back. I tried to sleep on my side, but my leg placed too much pressure on my pelvis. Before I was with child I would often snuggle up against Him and lay my leg across His, wrapping myself around Him. He encouraged this cuddling position, and during pregnancy I continued to sleep like this as it was the only way I could get any rest.


He is usually a stomach sleeper, but He need to remain on His back in order for His leg to be high enough to offer my pregnant thigh a comfortable perch. We slept like this through four pregnancies. It wasn't until many years after our last child was born that I heard Him commiserating with another father about how unnaturally heavy a pregnant leg was. This was the first time I ever heard Him mention that He had not been an eager participant as my pregnant leg rest. I'm not going to quibble about the "He has no right to even mention His discomfort after what I had to endure". The truth is: He was uncomfortable-for an extended period of time-and through multiple pregnancies; He never made me feel like my "maternity" thigh was any different than my "normal" thigh (until of course after the fact); and He never complained. He knew I was uncomfortable and He tried to ease my burden without turning it into one of His.

He propped my leg...

...one more reason I love Him