December 14 Prompt: Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)
I turned the car into the driveway at 7:30 last night, tired but invigorated from a late evening of training clients and meetings with prospective clients. Parked in the garage, I sat there for a minute listening to a story on NPR, sniffling and attempting to not cry as NPR stories reduce me to an emotional bag of snot, and dreading having to head inside and figure out dinner. Cereal? String cheese? Wheat thins? Handfuls of white chocolate chips left over from the weekend baking extravaganza? Grabbing my heavy bag, heeled boots clomping up the wood covered basement stairs, I pushed open the door and was hit with the savory intoxicating aroma of tomatoes and olive oil. Standing at the stove, wearing his plaid pajama bottoms, (the favorite house pants with a small growing hole in the knee,) Joe was making dinner. I came home to delicious chestnut, apple and prosciutto ravioli, thank you Costco, with tomato sauce for dinner. Made even more delicious by the fact that I didn't cook it and I got to share it with the one thing I appreciated the most in the past year, my partner.
I suspect some may think it's cheesy or unoriginal to pick my husband as the thing I appreciate most this year. But they would be wrong. Have you met this guy? He's so choice and he is mine. I appreciate him because of a thousand little everyday things and all of the big, important ones: our love, passion, shared sense of humor, all of the chemical "must sit super close to you and breathe you in" magic. But the small things are those that I appreciate the most.
Because without the little things, the magic can become eroded under the weight of daily struggles and drudgery. The weight of too much laundry, expectations and obligations, the slow disappearance of neck kisses while you do the dishes, tiny arguments over petty differences. We fight and argue. We aren't perfect. But Joe tells me I love you everyday. He is affectionate and handsy, and if I jokingly complain about getting groped he always tells me that if he stops feeling me up then something's wrong. And he's right. I don't ever want to lose that physical connection. I'm not talking about sex. I'm talking about the casual back rub, the behind smack, fingers in the hair, that say I'm still into you after twelve years of monogamy.
But the way that Joe puts the two of us as a couple ahead of himself as an individual, is why I appreciate him so much. It's also how I can be absolutely certain he'll be a superb father. Over nine years of marriage we've gotten away from the petty, my petty, tallying of who has done what around the house, who last cleaned the kitchen, put the dog out, in a constant battle to be equal and fair. We each do our part and take care of our share and hold each other up on those days when we need a break.
Dinner was cooked when I got home last night. The twelve brown leaf bags were at the curb for this morning's pick up. He knew I would be tired and he anticipated my deep desire to crash on the couch and veg. And that's what I got to do for a bit. I cleaned the kitchen later. We might have bickered over putting together our Christmas card later, and gone to bed about an hour apart. That's ok. We both know when we need a little space and the room to focus on our own thing. We need that space to breathe as individuals. In the middle of the beautiful demands of marriage when your wife is a touch cranky, it's only logical to stay up an hour late and wait until she falls asleep. I was unconscious when he came to bed. But in the early hours of the morning, right before the alarm went off, he asked me to scoot over and lay in the crook of his arm for a few minutes. A brief five minutes to just quietly wake up and begin another day together. I am so grateful for you and all of those little five minutes strung together to make up the best nine years of my life. Thank you.