I woke up this morning with an incapacitating headache. We skipped church and I spent the day horizontal and growling at my children while The Man worked outside, replacing the offending fence. It's his birthday tomorrow and I feel bad that he spent the day laboring in the sun and periodically instructing Allie to watch the Weekids so they would leave their mama alone. I was supposed to help him but just going outside left me looking for a way to clamp my head into the wood-working vise. He didn't complain about working alone, though. He never does.
Last night we went out, sans children, to celebrate his birthday. We laughed and flirted and drank adult beverages and ate too much. We were every bit a couple happy in love. I can honestly say I still enjoy going out with The Man as much as I ever have. Our dates, while now limited to a handful of times a year, make me feel pretty and funny and valued. And miraculously that hasn't been diminished by the familiarity of being married for a dozen years.
The steakhouse where we went to dinner was peppered with kids going to the local homecoming dance. One young couple sat at the table across from us and I watched them playing grown-up. Fidgety and nervous and trying too hard to look comfortable. The girl was lovely, if a bit overdone in her cocktail dress. Thin and glowing with the natural diaphanous beauty of the young. I wondered, momentarily, how we must appear to them. An overweight woman in wedges and wide legged jeans chatting comfortably with a bald (sorry, honey) man, ever casual, in jeans and a t-shirt. In a culture that values fame, money and beauty I cannot imagine they saw anything enviable in our obviously average suburbanness.
But I remember being that girl: excited and sparkly and wobbling in strapy heels. Sitting across from a boy I didn't really know. Uncomfortable with what to order. What to say. Who to be. I remember being told that I was living the best days of my life. And I am so thankful that wasn't true. Because I wouldn't trade places with her for all the taught tummies, glowing skin and nights of 12-hour-sleep in the world.
I know now that this thing I have is enviable. More enviable, I'd even dare say, than fame or money. A happy marriage. Worn and comfortable as faded flannel, but laced with moments of greatness. Moments sprung from being loved completely by someone who knows me completely and still finds me - inconceivably - worthy. I have lived long enough to realize what a rare and fragile gift that is. And how little I have done to deserve it.
Tomorrow the Weekids and I will make The Man a cake for his birthday. At dinner we'll all present him with handmade birthday cards and small gifts and lament that he had to work so hard on his big day. Later we'll sing and eat bowls of cake and ice cream during our family devotional. It won't be a big or even particularly memorable celebration. But I hope it will be enough. And he will feel appreciated and loved. Just as I do...because of him.