As if it wasn’t wonderful enough to have Mother’s Day yesterday—complete with Otto’s ceremonial announcement that the pool was officially ready for swimming, subsequent offer of a buck fifty to any child who went off the diving board into the frigid water, Monkey’s broad grin of acceptance, wild leap into the water, and then swim/scramble to the side where his swim trunks all but fell off as he hauled himself out of the pool (and what is better than a flash of your baby’s butt while he laughs hysterically about how his suit must’ve frozen right off? NOTHING)—when I mentioned that the next day was our anniversary, Chickadee corrected me with great indignation.
“No. No it isn’t.”
Yes, I told her, our wedding anniversary. May 11th.
“No, that’s not your anniversary. That’s FAMILY DAY, because it’s the day we all became a family.” Well. Okay, then. It is indeed the day we all became a family. But I’m still going to take a minute to gush about the guy I hold responsible.
I know that HARDLY ANY OF YOU harbor any fondness for Otto, but… oh, hang on. I have to stop laughing, first.
[You know, I think sometimes that if we did a poll, here, to ask why people read and what they like the most, the results would read something like:
1) Mir’s dad’s comments
2) Otto’s comments
3) Stories about Mir being embarrassed while naked at the doctor’s office.
4) Stories about Mir being embarrassed through her own stupidity (while fully clothed).
5) Stories about Mir’s kids being rotten (in which case, your kids are so much better!).
6) Stories about Mir’s kids being generally awesome in spite of her (in which case, your kids will likely be fine, too!).
Does that sound about right? I think it does.]
Anyway. Where was I? Oh! Right! Our anniversary. I’ve now known Otto for coming up on twenty years and we’ve been married for two of ’em. And there’s no one in the world I’d rather fall asleep next to, or be jolted awake by in case of imaginary emergency.
How is it even possible that it’s been two years? And he hasn’t killed me yet? Patience, thy name is Otto.
In honor of 24 months as husband and wife, I give you:
24 Things I Adore About Otto
1) He is unflappable. I have never known a calmer person in my entire life. Me, I’m so flappable, so full of anxiety-laden flaps which are then waterproofed with a slick coating of worry, it’s a wonder I haven’t flown away. He, even in times of stress, remains logical and productive without turning robotic. He loses it very rarely—just enough to assure me that he isn’t a robot—and his anger is quickly spent and soothing calm restored.
2) He can fix anything. Know what I can fix? Dinner. And maybe that button that fell off your shirt, if I can figure out where I put my sewing kit. That’s about it. Otto takes things apart and puts them back together again and then they work. That? Is HOT.
3) He takes fatherhood seriously. I’ve never been a stepparent, so I can’t even begin to understand what it must be like, taking on a couple of half-grown kids. Add in all of the particulars (including a territorial father and a mother—me—who pretty much had the single mom thing down and is, ahem, a bit of a control freak), and he could’ve easily remained detached and perfunctory in his duties. But he’s in the trenches with me, because that’s where he knows he belongs.
4) He loves the kids to pieces. This is different from the previous item because he easily could’ve taken on all of the co-parenting responsibilities without truly developing deep relationships with the kids. I once thought there was no greater tenderness than witnessing a father loving his children. Now I know there is no greater tenderness than witnessing a stepfather choosing to love his sometimes-rotten stepkids and feel they are every inch his family. The man who once told me he didn’t know if he could handle children issued noisy *smack*ful kisses to the giggling masses this morning while declaring, “HAPPY FAMILYVERSARY!”
5) He still insists that a piece of broccoli once almost killed him. Personally, I think it’s a rather lame excuse for refusing most cruciferous vegetables, but his commitment to the tale has grown on me.
6) He always opens doors for me, even when I torment him about it and/or run up ahead to get to the door first. I don’t understand how chivalry isn’t outdated and sexist, but he doesn’t care, because he likes to treat me like a lady. Which is sort of hilarious given just how ladylike I am (hint: not very), but also sort of sweet.
7) He always thinks I’m beautiful. I don’t know why. Or how. But he does, and I believe him.
8) He enjoys doing yard work. When Otto and I dated the first time ’round, he used to come visit me in New England and immediately mow the lawn for me. It was some weird compulsion of his. My friends and I took to referring to him as my lawnboy, and it was after we broke up that I had to take over (and discovered I’m allergic to wasp stings, REALLY allergic). It’s not even that he DOES the yard work, it’s that he seems to ENJOY it. It’s adorable.
9) He is completely entertaining during bad television. He watches Grey’s Anatomy with me, even though he probably wishes I didn’t watch it. And he got me hooked on Deadliest Catch. And we’ve yet to find the problem that watching repeated reruns of CSI: Miami and making fun of David Caruso can’t… well, okay, maybe not SOLVE, but at least VASTLY IMPROVE.
10) He always puts the laundry away. KEY QUALITY IN A SPOUSE, right there.
11) He is an amazing teacher. Not only do his students flourish under his tutelage, he’s willing to sit down and work with the kids and take the time to make them self-sufficient, rather than just doing it for them. Also? He can teach ME things without me wanting to claw his face off, which was a feat never accomplished in my first marriage. Whoever the student, they learn without feeling stupid. That’s a lot more unusual than I think many people realize.
12) He wears a tie to work every day. He doesn’t have to. Hardly anyone else does. It’s a little eccentric, I suppose. But it’s utterly HIM.
13) He always puts exactly the right amount of crushed ice in my water. Don’t underestimate something like this in keeping a marriage strong, people. Too much and it becomes a giant blob that crashes into your face; too little, and the water doesn’t stay cold. It’s an art. He is the master.
14) When he sets the table for dinner, he puts the plates on an angle. I don’t know how or why this started, but now the kids do it, too. Our plates are square, and they end up with a corner pointed directly into the diner’s body. Which is weird. But still makes me laugh.
15) He has great ideas for me on how to get organized, grow my business, and reach my goals. Like a lot of guys, Otto is solution-oriented. Unlike a lot of guys, he actually understands what I do and how I work and how things might get even better and still be workable for me.
16) But he never gets offended if I don’t take his suggestions. Sometimes Otto knows better than me, and sometimes he doesn’t. But he never takes it personally if I don’t utilize one of his ideas. Even if it really IS a better idea than what I’m already doing. He is perhaps the most judgment-free person in my life.
17) He’s my biggest fan. Well, I suppose he has to share the spot with my dad, but Otto GETS what I do and why I do it, and also believes in me even when I’m a gibbering pile of self-doubt. This would be a good place to insert a really sappy rendition of “Wind Beneath My Wings,” frankly, but I’ll spare you.
18) He never protests when I announce we need to buy part of a cow or stop buying anything with high fructose corn syrup or that I’m going to plant a year’s worth of beans. I doubt any of these things matter to him the way they matter to me, but when it matters to me, he’s on board 100%.
19) Sometimes he buys pints of Ben & Jerry’s and hides them from the kids. Well, not recently, because I’m all dairy-free and whatnot for the time being, but Otto has been known to pick up a couple of my favorite flavors and stash them. And then after the kids go to bed he will lean in real close and gaze deep into my eyes and say, “I got you Cherry Garcia. Do you need some?” SWOON.
20) He’s a dedicated friend. Not only is he the best friend I’ve ever had, he’s an amazing friend to a large circle of people in his life. I can and do learn a lot from him about tolerance, forgiveness, and love by watching him with those he calls his friends. I hope to someday be half the companion he is.
21) He receives my frequent criticism with good humor. I am trying to be a kinder and gentler person, but a lifetime of being a bitch requires a bit of time from which to wean oneself down. He doesn’t take it personally. When I’m right he offers a mild “Gorgonzola!” and when I’m wrong he shrugs it off and waits for me to realize I’m being stupid.
22) He frequently grabs my ass when sneaking a kiss as we pass in the hallway or kitchen. Um, sorry, Dad. And Otto’s family. But it makes me giggle. And never fails to cheer me up.
23) He’s tone-deaf but loves music. On a very basic level, that makes no sense to me at all. On another level, it’s so very Otto—he loves what he loves, and there may not be any rhyme or reason to it from the outside looking in, but that doesn’t matter. And in the meantime, he’s brought all kinds of awesome music back into my life. And doesn’t mind when I ask him not to sing.
24) He says, “You love me, but you have no idea why,” in the face of difference of opinion (and usually while laughing at me). I love that he says that—his easy acknowledgment of and comfort with our differences—but he’s wrong. I know exactly why I love him. I love him because I don’t know how not to, and because he makes ME more lovable. He makes me want to be better than I am. And the longer I’m with him, the better I get. The better WE get.
Happy anniversary, my love. I always have. I always will.
Happy Family Day, my goofy little family. I know it hasn’t always been easy, but I still think it’s been well worth the price of admission.
We got the very best one.