Last night as I laid down to go to bed I thought about the fact that it was my husband’s birthday. It was past midnight so before going to bed I had told him “Happy Birthday” when I kissed him goodnight. But that was it. We had spent the evening at his parent’s house having a birthday dinner, but nothing in particular was planned for the actual day. His boss had texted him unexpectedly and offered him to take the day off. As I pulled up the covers and fell into my pillow I realized I had nothing special in mind for his day.
I thought back to our youth. I could remember celebrating his birthday when we were 19. Oh the plans! I made a special meal. Even though I didn’t have a kitchen of my own I didn’t let that stop me. I used my parent’s kitchen, my mom’s pots and pans, and in fact her recipe for homemade lasagna. I made a special grocery trip with my limited funds and purchased all the ingredients needed. I used the fancy dishes. I set the table just so. I had candles and cloth napkins. I wore a black cocktail dress and spent about two hours on my hair and make-up. These were but simple additions to the magnificent card and the multiple gifts, all of which I had devoted much time and effort into picking out. I even made his birthday cake, a miniature three tier cake from scratch.
I turned over on my side last night and thought, you got nothing! Nothing special or exciting planned. At all.
Like many couples, when my husband and I got married we started a family. Like I mean we started right away. We married in November and had a positive pregnancy test by January. This meant gone were the days of devoting all my time and energies to him. It didn’t mean I couldn’t give him any of me. It just meant there was less to go around.
The leopard print lingerie from our honeymoon night got shuffled to the bottom of the drawer under a pile of nursing bras and big, comfy cotton underwear. There’s little time or patience for silk thongs after a baby comes along.
As the first baby grew older and another baby came the time spent leisurely shopping was but a faded memory. The trips to multiple stores to find just the right shirt to match just the right pants were replaced with one quick jaunt to the outlet to grab something in between naps, to get something in the precious stretch of time kids allow between their meals and their temper tantrums. You know, that golden half hour.
There would no longer be an afternoon spent pouring over the Hallmark section, reading every single romantic card available, searching for just the right one. Instead I would be confronted with a basket full of groceries and a tired, crying infant in the 99 cent bargain card section. I’d try to read a card or two while intermittently making sure my toddler wasn’t running out the front door of the store. I would just be content if I got home and the card I had chosen read “Dearest Husband” rather than “Get Well Soon” or “Congrats Nephew.”
I would now give over half my card to the scrawling “signature” of a three year old. Instead of writing a long, poetic prose to my love, I would just try to squeeze into my own little corner, unmarred by a child’s penmanship, a hurried “I love you so much dear.” I would sign this card five minutes prior to giving it, because it would be the first time I’d had the chance in between cleaning poop off butts and cooking meals. And sometimes in that order.
The quickly chosen gift would likely be placed in a pink, princess gift bag since that’s all we have in a house full of girls.
There would be no homemade cake. There might be a Walmart cake, bought at the last minute. But it might end up being a frozen pie. The candles would definitely be pink. Again, for the same reason as the gift bag.
It’s hard to be thoughtful, it’s hard to be spontaneous or exciting when parenthood enters the picture. Some days it’s all you can do to survive. Never-mind finding the time for all the extras. Time alone is rare. Time alone together with your spouse is almost nonexistent. When my husband is home a big part of me just wants to go to the bathroom and close the door. It’s my only chance to take a bath by myself or think in silence for that matter.
I realized last night I had no big Birthday surprise planned for my man. We didn’t have a romantic get-away planned. I didn’t have a specific meal on the agenda. No perfume-laced love notes or new lingerie tucked away. I certainly wouldn’t be jumping out of a cake or performing a birthday private dance. I shudder at the thought, even if he may not.
I had nothing exciting planned. In fact, in all reality my marriage isn’t exciting. But I decided that’s ok. Marriage is hard work. It’s not always exciting or adventurous. It’s not a continuous honeymoon. It’s work. Reality steps in. Responsibility steps in. Poop and sick kids and late bills happen. Tires go flat, dinner burns, the sink overflows with dishes, and yard work beckons. Fights will happen, you’ll say something you don’t mean, and then you’ll regret it. You’ll say “I’m sorry” and hopefully mean it. Then you’ll move on. Or you should.
It won’t always be exciting. It won’t always be like a favorite romantic comedy or like a sultry and popular novel. But you know what? It will still be wonderful.
In between playing pretend with the kids, mopping the floor, and cleaning out the shed there will be a relationship. It will be more than the spontaneous happenings of youth and dating. It will be a partnership. It will be a beautiful commitment even if. Even if it’s not always exciting or spontaneous or romantic or filled with fabulous plans.
It’s the look that passes between us while we watch the children play. A meaningful glance that only we understand. It’s the brush of his hand against mine that still makes me shiver with anticipation. It’s a warm kiss when I say “Happy Birthday. I love you.” Every kiss every day will not always be electric or I may not feel it in my toes, but I feel it in my heart. Always. Every time.
I guess in a way it is exciting. It’s exciting to still be in love, even when everything around us is chaotic, busy, distracting. It’s exciting to be loved, loved for real, a deep love that perseveres through even the bland, mundane times.
It’s exciting to see happiness and a genuine smile over a rushed birthday card, a single gift in a girlie bag, a candle in a frozen pie, and a day without a single plan or surprise. It’s exciting because we love each other still.
Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband. I love you more than ever, and even more each day. Every day with you is better than the first. And may I venture to say, more exciting too.