Yesterday was Otto’s birthday, and lo there was much celebration and rejoicing!
Except… there was no way I was going to manage to top last year’s surprise (and subsequent party and extravaganza), plus Otto was out of town for most of the weekend, plus life is completely overwhelming right now for various mostly uninteresting reasons, plus I just generally sort of suck.
So, we love him to bits and all, but I’m afraid that as birthdays go, it wasn’t a terribly exciting day. I mean, there were presents, and we went out to dinner, and I told him I love him about a billion times, but I still feel like I kind of dropped the ball. And that is only partially because I discovered we were out of candles and made him blow out a match on top of his cake so he could make a wish.
[It's true, we were out of birthday candles. How does that happen? We ALWAYS have birthday candles! Except when we don't. And then we sing and I stick a lit match in the cake and then it burns out. So I light another match, and relight the first one, and Otto blows that out and probably wishes for this day to be over, already.]
There’s a huge part of me that subscribes to the whole “it’s my blog and I’ll gush if I want to” school of let-me-tell-you-once-again-how-much-I-adore-my-husband thought. Certainly one could search through my archives and pull out the bloggy equivalent of dozens of spiral notebooks filled with MIR + OTTO 4EVR! doodlings, complete with swirly pink hearts and careful practice of me writing MRS. OTTO over and over in my most careful cursive. The fact of the matter is that I love him, I love writing about how much I love him, and there’s also bonus fun involved in watching him do the inevitable “aw, shucks” shuffle after I tell you how awesome he is and y’all agree with me.
On the other hand, I feel like at a certain point it becomes weird and awkward to listen to someone go on and on YET AGAIN about how superfantabulous their mate is, and I know that I—cynic that I tend to be—often begin to wonder why, exactly, it bears such frequent repeating. Like, I would like to have a nickel for every blog I’ve read where someone is always saying how great their husband is, and then they end up getting divorced and everyone says, “Nooooo! I thought everything was so great!” Because I am neurotic, I worry that if I extol Otto’s virtues too often, you’ll start thinking I’m One Of Those People, going on and on to build a semi-imaginary structure of Perfect Life so as to maybe convince myself that things are good.
The reality is that I gush because he’s awesome, and our marriage is a reminder to me every day that when people say “Marriage is hard work” they don’t mean “Marriage is joyless and soul-sucking” but more “Life is challenging and a good marriage will both buffet you from the storms and give you more to work on.” I’m grateful for Otto, every day. He makes my life so much better, I still, all these years later, can hardly believe my luck.
Right now, I think Otto would agree with me that much of our day-to-day life feels like a slog. Not because of US—if we could run off to the mountains with no responsibilities, like we talked about back when we were teenagers, I think we’d be golden—but because the hard work of working for a living, running a house, meeting our obligations to friends, family, and various organizations, and raising two high-needs kids is just plain hard. Plus I think December has an insidious way of making your brain believe that anything short of a Norman Rockwell painting is somehow, I don’t know, EXTRA disappointing and unfulfilling.
I wanted to make Otto’s birthday a day of relaxation, joy, family togetherness, homemade cake with candles, and celebration. Instead, it was a day of parenting challenges, stress, and a store-bought cake with a match sticking out of it. He deserved more, and we just couldn’t quite get there.
Still, there was a nice dinner and many nice moments throughout the day. And he was very understanding about the places where I felt like we kind of fell down on making it all more of a Super Fun Birthday Day for him. Which of course just made me feel WORSE because he’s just the sort of guy who doesn’t even make me feel bad for being a sucky wife.
Last night before we fell asleep, he said, “I think 2012 is going to be our year.” Then, after a pause, he added, “Wait, I think we said that last year, about 2011.” And we laughed, because it’s true, and it’s pitiful, and it doesn’t matter—we love each other anyway.
Happy birthday, Baby. I promise to have candles next year.