Insert various/sundry fawning here

By Mir
December 5, 2011

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.


  1. elz

    Matches-candles. Potato-tomato! There was cake, and that’s what matters. Happy Birthday Dear Otto, Happy birthday to you- cha cha cha.

  2. Nancy R

    Happy Birthday, Otto!

  3. Rachel C.

    Yours is the kind of real life awesome relationship that we love to read about… because you do not glorify, you simply acknowledge and celebrate the joy and beauty and wonder and appreciation and and and…
    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Aimee

    Well, matches may not be as fancy as candles, but Otto had something to wish on and he had you and the kids. Sounds like a good birthday to me!

    (BTW, I’m *still* singing that Otto song from Beaches. I’m at work now, so I’m singing it in my head. But at home I belt it out, much to my husband’s amusement.)

  5. diane

    Well, a match on a store bought cake is certainly memorable! You can (and should) gush to your heart’s content, as it is obvious from reading pre- versus post-Otto posts how wonderful he is, and how incredible the two of you – and the four of you as a family – are together. What you have is worth the hard work that comes along. Many blessings for this coming year!

  6. Otto

    I think that the timing of my birthday, between holidays and my beautiful wife’s busiest time of the year, is just unfair. So, a proposal – my birthday will now be celebrated on March 15, away from all other commitments.

    The fact that it is in the middle of spring break when the whiny kids will be far, far away is just a bonus.

    It’s you, me and the dog out for dinner. Everyone will be happy and who cares about the candles?


  7. Beth R

    Happy birthday, Otto!

  8. Tara

    Happy birthday to Otto!

  9. Heathir

    I love (love, love, love) Otto’s idea. I have a December birthday – one that’s even closer to Christmas – and have always felt like it gets ignored.

    I am totally changing my birthday celebration date, too. Only not until after this year’s is celebrated. Because I definitely deserve an extra birthday, instead of skipping one.

    Otto, you are awesome. And full of brilliant ideas, too.

  10. Another Dawn

    Otto gives me hope that there are nice, lovely, sweet, considerate men in this world. Mir may have gotten the only one, but there is always the faint hope that there are more out there and some day I might actually meet one.

  11. mamalang

    Your gushing is always reinforced by his awesome comments.

    Happy birthday Otto.

  12. Katie in MA

    Happy Belated Birthday, Otto! I believe you even posted Otto’s patented Aw Shucks Shuffle once and I have to agree – it is adorable indeed.

    Keep doodling, Mir – your sketches give me hope that my own Otto is somewhere out there. :)

  13. ste

    Happy Birthday, Otto!

    Mir – your Norman Rockwell reference? Genius. And so freakin’ true.

  14. bj

    I think that one cannot extol the virtues of one’s spouse often enough, when one’s spouse deserves. I’m also married to one of the world’s “nice guys.” He’s a high power, alpha guy who treats me and his family with love and respect support, and always has, through the almost 23+ years we’ve been married.

    I think that Otto deserves candles sooner than his next birthday, though. After the December rush is over, you and Otto deserve an afternoon, night, or weekend where you can truly celebrate each other, stepping out of the challenges of real life, even if only for a couple of hours.

    (Ooh, just looked back and saw that’s Otto’s suggestion, too. Yup, plan now. How can we help you?)

  15. Mom

    You DID accept my pleadings last year that you move your birthday to a date that would be less of a problem for my addled brain to remember! Thank you so much (even though I got it right this year, finally) – as it might just earn you a double dose of birthday cheer.

    There’s no other way to say it – you are the best and our family is very lucky to have you amongst us.

    Wishing you the happiest of birthdays: you deserve the best.

    Much love,

  16. Kelly

    Happy BIrthday Otto!

  17. Jill W.

    Happy birthday, Otto!

  18. The Mommy Therapy

    So sweet. I love that you gush about him, it’s so genuine and refreshing…and yet normal in a fantastic way. Life is challenging and any two people working through it together is simultaneously wonderful and extra challenging.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself, there is a lot of life going on and I’m sure all your numerous posts expressing your love can reassure him that you are excited about celebrating his life every day.

    Happy birthday to Otto!

  19. Jennifer Joyner

    Happy Birthday Otto! As much as I think Mir hung the moon, I am almost equally convinced you are the model by which all husbands should measure themselves. You two are a match made in the stars.

  20. Megan

    Dude – Otto – did you SERIOUSLY just suggest the Ides of March as your new birthday?

    On the other hand, maybe you’re going for an Ides makeover, like, oh sure Caesar got his and things got a little Brutal (heh. That was a history joke) but from here on out it is Ides Ottiae and it is all kinds of awesome? I can get behind that.

    Now me? I’ve managed to get my over-seas kid’s Xmas box off a day too late to get there for St Nicholas’s day, haven’t event SENT my non-over-seas kid’s box off which means it gets to have a Very Special Email Giftcard Sent Specially By Me And It’s Special Too, No Really for St Nicholas’s day, and I actually just patted myself on the back for deciding that a tin of Pringles totally counts as a small gift. Sigh.

    I think a match-onna-cake is doing pretty darn well actually!

  21. Alix D

    Many belated felicitations and happy returns to Otto.

    I understand what you’re getting at, Mir, but I also think it serves to remind some of us not to settle. I waited a long time to marry, and then married significantly younger, and I’m glad I never settled. At least two of the previous almosts would certainly have ended in divorce and acrimony, had I followed through and settled for something less than I wanted.

    No pairing is perfect, and I like to joke that the sentiment is “Someday my Prince will come, and he will be psychic.” But the statistical probably of finding someone you don’t have to settle for is high enough to make it worth the wait. I think you and Otto are one of the positive reminders of that.

  22. Kendra

    Happy Birthday Otto!

  23. StephLove

    After my partner’s birthday a couple weeks back, I am thinking any birthday in which no-one in the celebrant’s family has lice is a good birthday.

    And there was cake, and presents. Good enough for sure.

  24. JennyA

    Happy Birthday, Otto!

    And what else is a match, besides a really quickly-burning candle? Really, I think it was a testament to your unwavering belief in Otto that he would be up to the challenge of blowing out a birthday match before the cake caught fire. That’s love!

  25. Rachel

    Happy Birthday Otto! If you do celebrate while the kids are gone for spring break, you can save the candles for the bedroom. ;)

  26. Katie K.

    Happy birthday, Otto. Only the most special people, ones who can ‘rise above’ the trials of having your special day in the midst of the holdiay season with a noble, “Oh, don’t worry about little old me!” are born in December. I have this on good authority, as my birthday is tomorrow.

  27. Jamie

    Happy birthday to Otto!!!

  28. Susan

    Happy Birthday Otto! Good day for a birthday. It is my brother’s too.

  29. Arnebya

    Oh, happy birthday to the husband about whom you could never gush too much. I love that you do, and it feels genuine and nowhere near trite, so don’t think I’m just saying that to go along with your hidden Everything Is Horrible But Let Me Say It’s Not So People Won’t Know It’s All Horrible. Heh. Seriously, though, it’s nice to read about how much you love him and want to show him (and want to talk about it and I’ve used the word ‘and’ way too much in this).

  30. Melissa

    Happy Birthday Otto!

  31. Varda (SquashedMom)

    Happy Birthday Otto!

    And we never have the “run out of birthday candles” problem around here because we’re Jewish – so we ALWAYS have a few spare Hanukkah candles sitting around in the back of a drawer somewhere, and they will do (being just slightly larger than standard Birthday candles) in a pinch!

  32. Tenessa

    Happy birthday!!

  33. Little Bird

    Happy Birthday to Otto! I know from having a birthday close to Christmas, mine is Jan. second. Tends to not get much attention and I always wanted to have a summer birthday, far far away from other celebrations. Alas, it was not to be.
    Next year if you don’t have birthday candles, plant a taper or votive candle in the cake. Or try to keep some sparklers from July fouth.

  34. Jackie

    See this kind of thing is what MAKES

  35. Jackie

    See this kind of thing is what MAKES Otto AWESOME and brag worthy. He knows you did the best you could that day and reminds you at the end of the day it will be better…. you know next year. haha j/k

    I think both of you are pretty fantastic.

    Happy Belated Birthday Otto!

    My son’s Birthday was on the 2nd. He turned 20 this year. (that was a little depressing)

    I get the crazy holiday/birthday/holiday/thing. Saddly it a never ending battle. But isn’t it grand when you have someone you love and KNOW you can depend on beside you to get you through it all.

  36. ccr in MA

    Happy birthday, Otto!

    Seems like December is a tough month to celebrated birthdays in. Would you consider celebrating your half-birthday instead? Doesn’t a pool party sound nice?

  37. Katherine

    My birthday isn’t in Dec, but my anniversary is -Dec 29. When everyone is recuperating from Christmas. We often end up going out for dinner some random time in Jan.

    Years ago I decided that my birthday would be observed during spring break. My older son’s badly is the day before mine and my birthday got lost in the shuffle. So we wait a few weeks and then I get my own cake (and DH has hopefully had a chance to go shopping!).

  38. dad

    Two thoughts:

    Yes Virginia, you have a good life. Maybe a wee bit short of perfect, but good.
    A perfect life = booooring, and what would you have to write about?
    Just count your lucky stars, praise Otto and keep your nose to the grindstone.

    Also, I can assure you no guy ever tires of being told he is wonderful .
    Particularly when he is.

    Maybe 2012 is your year.

  39. Kati

    My son plays Pop Warner football, meaning he has practice every. Single. Weeknight. For 2.5 hours. 40 minutes round-trip. Not to mention homework and whatnot for his Cambridge classes. Because The Boy’s big day fell on a Tuesday during season, for his birthday dinner he got a few balloons, tiny paper umbrellas in his Hungry Man chicken cutlets, a Hannukah candle in the same frozen dinner’s in-tray brownie, one present, and the promise of a proper celebration at a later date. (As an aside, he eats 2-3 dinners each night during season while maintaining 80 pounds at 5 feet tall, so the frozen dinners are necessary to keep him from drooling when he looks at the cats.)

    So, yeah, a store-bought cake with a match in it totally sounds like you planned ahead, unlike the Last-Minute Mom that I am. Go Mir! And Happy Birthday Otto!

  40. Leah

    Happy birthday to your awesome husband.

  41. Jeanie

    Awww, happy birthday, Otto!

  42. Jessica

    Maybe Otto is on to something. No one wants to celebrate when your birthday is between Christmas (party for Christmas!) and New Year’s Eve (party for New Year’s!) All that equals no party for me anywhere near my birthday. My husband’s birthday is soon after New Year’s Day, so he gets the “we’re all partied out” vibe, too. Maybe we should start celebrating our half birthdays instead…

  43. addy

    Happy Birthday Otto! And we did celebrate Ci-Ci-s birthday in mid July while she was growing up. Cuz trying to have a birthday party in Mid-December is the pits.

  44. StephLove

    BTW, I hope you got a picture of his cake with the match stuck in it.

  45. Edd Fear

    Happy Birthday, Mr Otto! Being a March birthday guy, I wholeheartedly support your move to March. Although you might want to rethink the Ides of March. After all, there’s that whole problem Caesar had with it.

    I’m not implying that Mir is Marcus Brutus, but no sense in tempting fate. March 17 is good for Irish beer and pots’o’gold, for instance.

    I’m just saying’.

  46. Stephanie

    March 15? The Ides of March? Sure….what could go wrong? As long as you’re not Ceasar….

  47. Brigitte

    Having a New Year’s birthday that is consistently forgotten every year (even by Mr. Husband), I like Otto’s idea! Especially as I was going to blame his audacity for daring to have a December birthday, but he beat me to that. ;-)

  48. Carole M.

    If you fill a stocking for Otto, it might be cute to include a couple of boxes of b’day candles.

  49. suzie

    Otto has my birthday.

    You will have your year, I know it.


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