Saturday morning Bryon left with the two boys to go shopping for my birthday and Christmas presents. While they were gone I cleaned the house and made 2 pairs of skinny jeans*. That night was our Christmas party. Before leaving the house, Bryon insisted that I open my birthday presents a day early. He and the boys were wagging their little tails to watch me open, so I caved.
The first thing I noticed is that they picked out birthday wrapping paper for me and had secretly wrapped the presents when I was who knows where. So sweet. I opened both gifts and they were... magnificent. He and the boys had spent some time deciding what to get... and they did so well. The first gift will allow me to provide you all with videos in this place (you're welcome, Nana), as well as make home movies. The other is a much younger, sleeker version of Black Betty. Holy day, I am blessed! I almost passed out with excitement. Seriously, if I took the time and the tangent to tell you all the story of how I came to have my first laptop [it's a bad memory], you all would cry at the sweetness and selflessness with which Bryon gifted me this gift. I was really touched.
We got all dressed up and went to our Christmas party, which was a good time. We sat with Plowman while he emceed the event. Afterward, we went for drinks and silliness with friends. There were birthday toasts, let me tell you. A few of them. The sitter spent the night, so we didn't feel so guilty about walking in the door at 3am.
On our way in the door, Bryon got a call that indicated that he might have to go into work the next morning to oversee the wiring of a pump. On Sunday. On my birthday, which was Sunday. Oh HALE NO. I lost it. The work thing for him is a very delicate balance, and thanks to Shoes I am hypersensitive to any waffling in that area. God, family, work. Period. Sometimes I will admit that this leads to disrespect on my part, knowing that Bryon's job is very important to him and my harrassment about working hours doesn't really help him any. I apologize for that and then continue to do it repeatedly. Sigh. And yes, I pray about that. However, my query to him is one consistent thing: are you a husband with a job or a manager with a wife? That's what it comes down to folks. Of course, Bryon chooses to be a husband first, but that question always reminds him of how critical this is to my heart.
I'm not asking him to stop reaching. I'm not asking him to quit or stop. I never would because it makes him happy and I want him to be satisfied professionally. Challenged. Rewarded. And he is the leader of our family so he gets the 'say'. However, I just want to see the balance. My heart has deep scars there and I cannot fix those on my own. When work gets really thick and needy of him for weeks in a row, I just need a verbal reminder that, despite the calls that come in the middle of the night for a stupid freaking pump, our family is more important. Even if he has to go in, he'll be thinking of us while he is there. My insecurities need for him to say the obvious. I need the reassurance.
Now. Have I ever mentioned to you people that my husband is about as manly as they come? He is. He so is. Which means, despite the fact that he has a sister and a daughter, the man CANNOT SPEAK GIRL. He simply cannot understand "pink" until I have been crying for hours. It's not a dig - it's actually kind of precious you know, afterward. But during? Not so precious.
There was screaming on both of our parts. We were both direct and defensive. There were so many tears that I made myself sick. My eyes were swollen shut. He was so frustrated to not. be. getting. it. I was so frustrated that a simple, "I'm sorry that you're disappointed that I might not be home. It will suck if I have to go in tomorrow, but I'll be home quick and we'll make the day fun anyway..." could have stopped the entire insecurity. Just a verbal reminder. But he didn't get it. He wouldn't give it up. I apologized for being upset, but he didn't really want to hear that either. We might as well have been beating ourselves with a couple of rubber bats for all the good it did.
'Round about 4am, Bryon passed out from exhaustion somewhere down at the end of the bed, with his head hanging off of it. I left him there. Partly because I was pissed and partly because my tummy had begun a strange rumbling. I didn't feel so good. And then, the poops started. Whatever virus had raided my husband last week chose that exact moment to strike me with a vengeance. The good news was, he was sleeping and unlikely to hear the very noisy outcome of this virus. The bad news was, virus. I was miserable. I was up and down and up and down multiple times and every time I caught a glimpse of his bald head hanging off of the bed I got pissed off all over again and then hurt all over again (this is the girl spiral, you know) and then I would go be sick and then come back to the bed to shiver and cry.
This went on until about 8am, when my eyelids fluttered open and he rustled around in the sheets. He did NOT get the call to come into work, so God resolved that one for me entirely. When he awoke, he came to the head of the bed and asked how I'd slept. Shitty in more than one way, I'd told him. We laid there in the quiet, neither one of us knowing what to say to the other, but knowing that the argument was not over. I took a deep breath and prayed for God to soften both of our hearts once more. And once more - more delicately this time - I reiterated WHY I felt the insecurity I feel when work threatens to 'take' him away from me. In my heart, it feels the exact same as him saying, "I'm choosing work over family today and I'm completely okay with it. I'm leaving you for work. You stay here and be okay with me leaving you all alone." Now I fully realize how stupid that sounds. I also realize that he is NOT saying those things and moreover, his actions aren't either. However, this is how it FEELS when he leaves to go to work unexpectedly.
After at least another hour of talking (my belly had stopped convulsing), he took my hand in his. There it was. Clarity. He apologized. Not for his work or his love for work, but for yelling. I apologized, too. Then he said just about the smartest thing he ever could have on that day. He said I'd made myself some shitty spaghetti.
"I should have seen this coming. I'm sorry I didn't realize it in time. Between work stress and getting older [oh, how that is bothering me!], and the anniversary of your dad's death on your birthday, you've made yourself a nice big bowl of shitty spaghetti. You're just picking something to be mad at and this presented itself." Mostly, he was right. Oh, was he right. "Work is the just the swords we're holding, swinging at each other. We need to put them down." I wasn't really mad at him and he wasn't really mad at me. It had taken four hours of crying and pooping for the man to speak pink.
Then he told me that I was "a beautiful 35 years today" and stroked my hair. There was lots of hugging and more tears. I looked positively toad-like by that point.
I stayed in bed with the Golden Girls while he took the sitter home. He took the kids, too, so it was quiet in the house. I prayed. Then the 'happy birthday' texts started rolling in. The first one was from his mom and made me cry. Oh how I love her. Then Mindy, my sister in law, then Joe. I slept for a little bit and woke up when he came into the room, sat down on the side of the bed, and presented me with a McDonald's cheeseburger, no onion. It was the most delicious thing ever and, how sweet he was to think of bringing me something. He ate with the kids in the dining room while I didn't move a muscle in the bed. [I was afraid that muscle moving would lead to more pooping.] Then, he sent the kids outside (52 degees) and gave them things to play with and instructions on self-maintenance. He pulled me into the shower with him and I mostly just stood there letting the hot water soothe my muscles. My guts hurt. We didn't speak much, but he smiled as he cared for me. He understood.
And then the most magical thing happened. We tucked ourselves into the bed at noon on a Sunday, and laid there together for FIVE HOURS. There was quiet talking. There was Golden Girls watching. There was sleeping on and off. There was canoodling. There was the sun, leaking through the bottom blind and touching the bedsheets with us underneath. He laid with his arm around me, rubbing my back or playing with my hair for hours. He felt fine, but wanted to lay with me. I didn't ask him to. He didn't call in to work, he didn't check his phone even once. The kids were remarkably well behaved and kept themselves occupied all day without burning down the house. Mostly they saw dad, taking care of mom. And he did. Oh, how he did.
I'm not sure I'm expressing well enough what it did for my soul for him to lay there beside me all day long. He gave of himself for me, so I would feel better. I didn't ask. It was PINK and he just... did it. He is such a remarkable man, such a wonderful, wonderful husband.
It became the best birthday I've ever had.
* More to come on this skinny jean makeover.