He's gonna kill me. But I'm going to publish this list on my blog anyway. What the hell. That's what you sign up for when you marry a perimenopausal hack.
[Click on the youtube video for today's soundtrack.]
1. He is the father of my two children, and whenever they do things that make me burst with pride or laugh in a spit-out-your-morning-coffee-kind-of-way, they make me so goddamn grateful that I chose him, and that he chose me. No one else in this world that I'd rather combine DNA with.
2. He makes yummy sounds whenever I cook for him.
3. He never panics. Even when there's an oxygen mask suddenly strapped to my face while I'm giving birth, and twelve people in white coats and nurses' scrubs urgently rush into our hospital room. Even when I get a call that my father has to be wheeled into open-heart surgery immediately. Even when our little boy's lips turn ashen-gray and he has difficulty breathing and we don't know why. He looks directly into my eyes and doesn't look away. He winds his way through the twisty-turny maze in my head where I'm cowering in a mushy corner of my over-analyzing brain, hiding and terrified. He tells me it will be alright, and I believe him. Completely.
4. When he's driving too fast, and I jam on the imaginary passenger-side brake that I still believe will work after nearly sixteen years of marriage, he doesn't stop the car and pull over to the side and tell me to get out and walk. He really should, but he doesn't.
5. He breaks the cardinal rule of Guys' Weekend and tells me all the details afterwards.
(At least I think he does. Hmmm.)
6. He's my own personal Geek Squad whenever something's fer-screwy with the computer. Or the printer. Or my cellphone. Or the cable box. Or the DVD player. Or the answering machine. Or the garage door opener. (I was an English major. Not a mechanical bone in my body.)
7. He believes in me, especially at the exact moments when I've stopped believing in myself.
8. He lets me buy clothes for him. We went through an unfortunate overalls phase together in the early nineties, and he didn't fire me as his personal shopper, even though he looked like an extra in Dexy's Midnight Runners "Come On Eileen" video. Thanks for that, honey.
9. He's a gem of a man in every sense of the word. Like, Top Five Men Ever In Existence. OK, Top Three. Jesus and Levon Helm are One and Two. I can't provide details or there will be lines of women outside my door with pies and casseroles.
10. He puts the stresses of the day aside each time he walks in the door at night. I don't know how he does it, but he is present, and loving, and cheerful, every goddamn time. Every goddamn time. (Now I'm rethinking Number Nine. Maybe my husband is Number One and Levon Helm is Top Two. Because Jesus wasn't even that easy-going. Remember the moneychangers in the Temple? That was a tough day at work for JC, and he totally lost it. And snipped at Mary Magdalene afterwards. Not my husband. No, sir.)
11. He doesn't say a word about all the deliveries that arrive regularly via UPS. Not one word.
12. He signs up for every shift in our little family. He wants to make memories with his babies. He wants to let me know he's got my back. He shows up, he makes the effort, and he participates. Actively. He's in this -- this whole messy, frustrating, heart-swelling, mucky, glorious, exhausting, uplifting thing that we built together with chewing gum and college dive bar beer coasters and London take-away Chinese food containers and subway tokens and Cheerios and plane tickets and Advil tablets and burp cloths and cups of coffee and loose change and honest-to-God love.
13. He has the ability to grow a beard eight seconds after he shaves. Damn, that's sexy. I miss his full-on mountain man look from our college days. Mercy. But the weekend scruff is enough.
14. He leaves me alone every December to string the lights on the Christmas tree all by myself. He's Jewish. He didn't grow up stringing Christmas lights. And he's secure enough in his manhood that he can hand that task over easily. (He's also not an idiot. Who the hell wants that job?) He's never understood why we drag a dead tree into the house and decorate it with "Precious Moments" and "Peanuts" ornaments. And electrify it, thereby increasing our risk of a fire tenfold. And then turn all the lights off, swig Baileys, and cry. (And we think a bris is a bizarre tradition?) He leaves me be while I blast my Christmas music and curse in the living room in the darkness, tangled in tiny white lights that may or may not be working, just like my father did before me and his father before that. He honors my traditions. Don't even get me started on St. Patrick's Day. The man should be canonized for lo, these many Marches.
15. He still holds my hand. And he still puts his arm around me at the movies.
16. He's an old-school man of honor. In his life, in his expressions of love, in the way he parents, at his workplace, in the moments that make his children -- and his wife -- so proud of who he is and how he conducts himself. The older I get, the more I realize how few of them are out there. And how lucky I am to have this one under my roof.
17. He listens to me -- about my delusions of grandeur and my moments of worry about the children and my surety that I'm dying from a rare disease and my flashes of anger about untrainable dogs or highway drivers or insurance companies.
(At least I think he does. Hmmm.)
18. He's filled twenty years with words and actions that let me know how he feels about me, and I've done the same, and if something happened to both of us tomorrow, we both know that we've had all of that, that it was real, and it was ours, and that it's been much more than enough. I pretended for a long time that I was a tough outer borough Irish chick who didn't need nobody -- not no way, not no how. I've learned that the honest, vulnerable expression of love is much tougher -- and more fulfilling -- than any tough chick persona. And so worth the risk. I'm more grateful than I can ever say that he leapt off the cliff with me, and that he held my hand all the way down.