Just a little older and a lot wiser than me

By Mir
December 4, 2013

Today is Otto’s birthday. I wish he had more than one each year, because Otto is the kind of man who is content to tend to everyone else and put his own needs on the back burner to make sure that everyone else is okay. He deserves way more than 24 hours of being the Man Of Honor.

Of course, we kicked off his birthday week early with the gift of mucus. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Remember how, before you lived with kids, you never got sick? No? Me neither. Here, I got you a box of decongestant. The GOOD kind, the kind I had to hand my first-born over to the pharmacist for. I’m sort of going to miss Chickie, but as she’s the one who brought this plague home, it seemed only fair. (Also, the pharmacist looked kind of scared.)

Anyway. Where was I going with this? (Woooo, I may have opened the decongestant box already. Good stuff, man. MY DESK IS SPROUTING FEATHERS.) Ah, yes. The point is that Otto is incredible and we don’t celebrate him nearly often enough. So today for his birthday I get to embarrass him.

Otto is, quite simply, the glue in this family. Sometimes we joke about how he’s a better wife than I am, and it’s not because he’s “girly,” it’s because I am often so single-mindedly focused on the MUST BE DONEs and HAVE TO DOs that I forget that we need to just spend time together having fun. He’s the one who suggests we duck out for a walk when the weather is nice in the evenings. He’s the one who sends me links to concerts with a simple, “Wanna?” He’s the one who asks the kids what they’d like to do over break, or who will look around the kitchen table and say, “Okay, if you could go ANYWHERE, what would you like to go see?”

Otto remembers that it’s not enough for our family to exist, or even just live, but that we also need to ENJOY it. That we have the RIGHT to enjoy it. He’s good at remembering that, and even better at reminding me in a way that doesn’t make me feel like I’m the worst person in the world for not always doing the same.

Otto wasn’t sure he wanted a dog. Not only is Licorice his best little buddy, I suspect he secretly loves it when we use the squeaky doggie voice to have Licorice exclaim, “Daddy’s home! MY ALPHA!”

Otto scolded us for feeding Licorice human food, in the beginning. Now he wouldn’t dream of eating an apple or a banana without sharing.

Otto was quite sure he didn’t want a SECOND dog, but agreed it could be good for the rest of us, and acquiesced. I’m pretty sure Duncan loves him best, because dogs know things about people, and are programmed to worship the ones most likely to be good pack leaders.

Otto complained about Duncan’s barking, then promptly made up a chase game with him specifically engineered to make him bark like crazy. Have you ever seen a tall man do a cartoon-chase run around the house in his slippers, trailed by a frantic, barking 20-pound dog? It’s a sight to see.

Otto told us that if we got another dog, he was allowed to get another car. We got our dog; he didn’t get a car. He brings it up periodically, but mostly to make the children roll their eyes.

Otto drives the kids back and forth without complaint. He gets up early to deliver Chickadee to weekend competitions and stays up late to fetch her from football games. He tells her not-quite-within-walking-distance friends that if it’s cold or dark he will drive them home, don’t they dare walk. He fetches a carload of loud boys for Monkey and later goes out to pick up pizza for them.

Otto exchanges emails with my dad; sometimes they’re about me. Sometimes they’re not. They enjoy each other, and I never knew how much that meant to me until I realized it was true.

Otto thanks me for doing things for the kids, and it’s not just to be nice, it’s because he really understands how much time and effort (and sometimes agonizing) goes into it, and he wants me to know he appreciates it even when they don’t.

Otto forgives those who’ve wronged him simply because that’s who he is, and he’d rather start over and hope for the best than stay mad. If he loves you, he’ll always focus on the good and forgive and forget the rest. Lucky us who are so loved by him.

Otto still makes me laugh, all these years later. “As long as we can laugh, it’s gonna be okay,” he tells me. We’re still laughing. He’s right. With him around, it’s a lot better than okay.

Happy birthday, Otto! You’ll always be older than me, and you’ll always be my favorite.


  1. Alison C

    Because I don’t have one of my own Otto is one of my favourite husbands too.

    happy birthday Otto!

  2. Gaylin

    Would you consider polygamy? Otto seems pretty wonderful, isn’t sharing a good thing?

    Happy Birthday Mr. Alpha.

  3. TC

    Awwww. Happy birthday, Otto!

    • Mir

      Buttering me up, I see. Sorry, that Triumph doesn’t match the rest of our cars. Try again? ;)

      • Angela Arnett Stone

        But it is beautiful! Consider it at least!

      • Kim

        It is a very pretty car. I was wondering if you had spoken to soon on the new car.
        Happy Birthday, Otto!

        • Brigitte

          WHOSE top down!?

      • Elizabeth

        Duncan would look AWESOME behind the wheel of that car. Think of the photo ops!

    • Cheryl

      I LOVE that car!

    • My Kids Mom

      Don’t you think she’d look good in any car with her top down?

    • Pop C

      Painted Red or British Racing green it would look fabulous!

      Oh, and .. Happy Birthday Otto.

  4. liz

    Happy birthday, Otto!!

  5. Melissa

    Happy Birthday Otto!

  6. Deirdre

    Happy Birthday, Otto!

  7. deva

    Happy birthday Otto!!

  8. Trish

    Happy Birthday Otto!

  9. Jean

    Happy Birthday Otto!!! Hope you have a wonderful day and that Mir is making you your favorite dinner tonight :)

  10. Karen R

    Awwwww. Happy birthday, Otto!

  11. Cheyenna

    So sweet. Happy birthday, Otto!

  12. Katherine

    Happy Birthday to Otto! I hope he has a super fantastic day! Now you just need to figure out how to bottle his wonderful qualities and sell it.

    I was reading through some of your old posts and at one point you promised to tell us all why he is Otto. Did you ever tell and I haven’t gotten there yet?

    • Mir

      I thought I did!! Now I have to go look for it.

      • Sassy Apple

        I always assumed it was because of his love of ‘autos?’ Happy Birthday to a husband who rivals mine in patience and understanding. We’re luck ladies Mir!

      • Jan

        You did not!! I even asked once before you gave an evasive non-answer that made me think you didn’t *ever* intend to tell and now I am CONSUMED with curiosity.

        I may need to get out more.

        • Mir

          You probably do need to get out more, but now I’m wracking my brain trying to remember if there’s a better story than “he likes cars and we went to Syracuse together and the mascot there is Otto the Orange.”

          Also, evasive non-answer? I sound like a jerk. I’m sorry for this conversation I don’t remember!

  13. Brenda

    Three cheers for Otto! Seriously, though, we love Otto. Happy Birthday!

  14. RuthWells

    I like Otto because he is so good to you, and I like you an awful lot. Happy birthday, Otto; you’re doing it right.

  15. JennyA

    Happy birthday, Otto!

    You give me hope that I have an Otto out there somewhere. :)

  16. karenp

    Happy Birthday Otto!

  17. Tricia

    Happy birthday Otto! So glad my favorite blogger has such a wonderful man to love her…

  18. Heather

    Happy birthday, Otto! You make truly excellent glue.

  19. Rebecca

    Otto is kind of awesome.

    Happy Birthday, sir!

  20. Mame

    Happy Birthday, Otto! My older brother sold his TR-3 to pay for the birth of his first son. For his son’s 40th birthday my brother bought himself another TR-3. I think the car looks terrific but it would be even better in British Racing Green!

  21. Michele

    Happy Birthday Otto!
    The part about forgiveness and starting over and hoping for the best……. How it’s better than staying mad……well I needed to hear that today. It really is a wonderful quality. In honor of Otto I’m going to try harder to be like that.

  22. jodifur

    This is so lovely. Happy Birthday Otto.

  23. Sharon

    Have a great one, Otto!

  24. Mandy

    Single mama here just stopping in to say that I hope my son grows up to be like Otto. The world needs more men (and women but especially men) like him.

    Happy B-day, Otto! Hope you get to lick the beaters.

  25. Rasselas

    Men like Otto are rare in the world and should be cherished. :3 Hooray for Otto! :D Happy birthday, I hope your present is a car. >.>

  26. not supergirl

    Happy birthday, Otto! It’s my birthday, too. I’m glad to share it with someone so wonderful. :)

  27. Rachel

    Happy birthday Otto!!

  28. Sharon

    Otto is one in a million ~ Here’s wishing Otto a happy birthday and a wonderful year!

  29. Frank

    Thank you, Otto, for being good enough to make Mir crow about you, thus raising the level of ‘Men’ a few notches.

    Also, did the avatar come before the nickname, or after?

  30. Headless Mom

    He’s a gem, that Otto. You should keep him.

    Happy Birthday Otto!

  31. Megan

    Don’t know why but the bit about Otto and your dad just shone for me.

    You guys are doing family right!

  32. Chris G

    Happy Birthday Otto!! You are one of a kind. If you meet another one out there please send them my way.

  33. jeni t

    Beautifully written. Happy birthday Otto!

  34. Leslie

    Happy Birthday, Otto!

  35. Andrea

    Happy Birthday, Otto! The world is a better place because of men like you!

  36. Jeanie

    Wish I had an Otto. Happy birthday, Otto!

  37. Kyallee Dalrymple

    Aw, that is so sweet! Happy Birthday, Otto!

  38. Crista

    Wishing you a very happy birthday, Otto!

  39. c

    Happy Birthday, Otto, I remember reading this blog in the dark days before you re-entered Mir’s life. I hope you have a wonderful year and congrats on another trip around the sun

  40. addy

    Happy Birthday Otto!

  41. Sheila

    Happy Birthday to a very good egg indeed.

  42. Rebecca

    I was smiling and giggling at this and then I got to the part about forgiving and focusing on the good. Dangit, stop making me sniffle.

    Happy birthday, Otto!

  43. Brigitte

    Getting to be THE MAN for a day is surely better than the dreaded combo Christmas/birthday gifts he probably got as a child! Happy B’day, Otto!

  44. dad

    Being a great guy is a big job…but somebody has to do it.
    Thank you for being the one.

    Happy birthday. Every day.

  45. js

    So much love here. So lucky to have my own Otto! Happy Birthday to the original!

  46. Jean

    Otto is the best! Happy birthday, Otto!

  47. Jamie

    Happy, happy day to Otto!!

  48. Lily

    Happy Birthday to an amazing person!

  49. Heidi

    If Otto had more than one birthday a year, he’d be really, really old.

    Growing up, my dad had a TR3. I can still remember the smell of oil… Oh, happy birthday, Otto!

  50. Dawn

    Happy Birthday to Otto!

    Now. About that cloning program I mentioned oh, so many years ago…


  51. Chris

    Happy Birthday – I hope you had a great day! (And I think Mir’s post might be the best birthday present I could think of – assuming the car is off the table :) )

  52. TracyB

    I’m sorry—I’ve been ….busy! Happy Belated Birthday, Otto! Question: Do cars really have to match? Just wondering.

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