Little Victories

I backed my car into a parking space today all by myself and didn’t damage anything.
If you’ve ever seen the way I drive backwards, you would understand why this is such a big deal. Parallel parking, mastered that. Backing up, however, is a problem.
I come from a long line of what I call “master backer-uppers.” My dad and grandfather can both back a full-size truck pulling an extra-long RV and a tow car across a ditch, between the mailbox and a tree, down the driveway and into a specified spot under the pines and stop before they hit the shed. The Mister can back a university cattle trailer down a narrow barn aisle. I, on the other hand, have a hard time backing the lawn mower in a straight line. Forget about blind spots and pedestrians.
It’s little victories that make the difference, really. The big triumphs only come on occasion, so you have to revel in the smaller satisfactions when they come. Today was one of those days. Not an overly fantastic day, but with enough of those small things to make it worth smiling about. My boss included me in an email sent to “his staff;” I got to play with a newborn lamb and coaxed a barn cat into letting me carry him around; cooked a corn casserole even the Mister liked; and didn’t get eaten by the normally-aggressive ducks we feed at the city pond.
I feel sorry for people who have a hard time appreciating those little gifts – the friends around them, the love of family, the opportunity to get an education… the list could go on and on.
I know this is a shorter post than usual, but I just want all of you reading this to take a moment and think about something that happened in your day that was a little victory, even when the rest of the day may have felt like a loss.
“This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” – Psalm 118:24

And for anyone who made need another extra boost of encouragement, take a look at this awesome video from the Kid President. At the very end, he mentions a little girl named Gabby fighting cancer. She’s a real little girl from middle Tennessee and my in-laws know her. Take the video to heart and remember, no matter what you may have gone through today, it could always be worse.

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“You’d better love me. Like lots of babies love me.”

The drain in our apartment shower has been draining too slowly for more than a month. Probably more than two months, actually, since I remember warning my brother before commencement that the shower would back up some.
It amazes me how much power human beings have to ignore problems when the solutions are unpleasant – to the extent that the Mister and I went several weeks showering in two or three inches of water because neither of us wanted to get down and fix the cause.
Don’t get me wrong – we bought liquid plumber in various brands and followed the directions religiously… we just weren’t willing to address the real cause of the problem. Until about a week ago.
The Mister, my hero, finally rolled up his sleeves one Sunday afternoon, unwrapped the pipe snake from the new Draino bottle, and went to work. It wasn’t long before I heard loud groans and the phrase, “Honey, you’d better really love me. A lot. Like, lots of babies a lot.”
However, I didn’t understand the true extent of his anguish until I went to check on him and found him stretched along the rim of the tub on his belly, trying to see down the drain to retrieve the length of pipe snake that had broken off and gotten lodged in the bend of the pipe.
Two sets of pliers, a screwdriver, a flashlight held in his mouth and a fall into the tub later, he launched the broken snake into the trash and proclaimed, “Don’t anybody tell me I’m not going to be a good surgeon!” I have to admit, I was pretty impressed. The shower is cleared and, after seeing the results of the surgery, I truly do love the Mister.
You see, cleaning drains of all kinds falls into that category of things men (primarily husbands and boyfriends) are supposed to do. I’m not one to be a stickler about “women’s jobs” and “men’s jobs,” but there are just some things that I am not meant to do. Like unclog drains, clean up non-human waste products and deal with the creatures of the night [as illustrated in Facing My Frog.]
Maybe it’s because I was raised in a home where my father did things for my mother, but I have never understood men who refuse to do things for their wives. Isn’t your job as the head of the household supposed to be to care for, provide for and generally keep your best asset (aka-your wife) happy? How does that work if your wife, who cleans your clothes, cooks your food, cleans up after your friends, keeps your schedule and generally serves as your personal assistant, comes home from working all day and you can’t even stoop to take out the trash for her?
(Disclaimer here: when I say that a man’s job is to keep his wife happy, that does not in any way mean that the wife should not do things for her husband and try to make his life comfortable and enjoyable as well. I’m just noticing a lot of marriages lately where it seems to be the wife doing everything and the husband playing video games while he expects dinner to be made.)
I’ve also been noticing a lot of women who complain about their male counterparts to the whole world, airing their dirty laundry for all to see. Some have read my articles here and commented on how my marriage must be “so perfect.” It’s wonderful, but by no means perfect because we are not perfect people. I just don’t post our arguments and problems for the reading pleasure of the whole world because that somehow doesn’t fall into the description of “loving and respecting your husband.”
That goes for girlfriends too, because if you can’t keep your arguments private while you’re dating, and if you can’t respect his privacy and human nature before you’re married, what in the world makes you think you’re going to afterwards?
So no, our marriage is not without its bumps sometimes, but that doesn’t mean those things turn into articles. There might sometime be an exception to this rule if at some point an argument in our house could be a lesson for someone else out there, but that exception would be made by mutual consent.

Power Cords Don’t Count

Allen, the father on “Boy Meets World,” bought his wife, Amy, a trash compactor for their anniversary. She, predictably, was unimpressed.
Of course, Allen was confused. Amy had been mentioning how she wanted a trash compactor for months. Allen saw a need, a problem, and set out to be a hero and fix it. He bought her the best trash compactor on the market and came home so proud of himself.
I paused the DVD and turned to the Mister. His prompt response was, “I would never do that. I’m not stupid. If I ever get you an appliance, it’ll have something attached to it or inside it.”
And actually the Mister has been really good about that. He’s good about remembering when I mention things that I like and about coming up with cute ways to surprise me with them. His parents and I are in complete confusion about where these romantic impulses come from. They certainly don’t come from either of his parents, and they would tell you that themselves.
The father in law let the mother in law pick out her engagement ring, after being prompted by his own mother, and then handed it to her and said, “Here, do you want this?” Neither of them know where the Mister ever got a romantic bone in his body.
So I just want to preserve in writing, for posterity’s sake, the fact that the Mister has promised never to buy me a gift simply for the purpose of solving a problem. This would include kitchen appliances, cleaning products and generally anything with a power cord.
Unless of course I have specifically asked for such a thing with the intent that it should be given on a holiday or special occasion. For example, this past Christmas I had several things on my list that were appliance-like, or at least had power cords, like a candle warmer. I intended for those to be Christmas presents. Thankfully the Mister is smarter than my Christmas list and knew that there needed to be something else along with the power cords, and he came through admirably with jewelry hanging on our tree.
His family is still reeling from that one.
Being the academic dork that I am, I relate this to something akin to the “nature versus nurture” argument. Nurture tells the Mister, “Power cords are acceptable Christmas presents.” But something in his nature, something from a generation or two back, says, “Buy her something shiny. Surprise her. Make her smile.”
I guess God knew to put backup reserves in place, even if only to save some men from themselves. (Now if only we could find a way to transfer some of those reserves to the many poor, helpless, untrained young men out there in the world. But that’s a problem for another column.)

A sappy Siri moment

My husband enjoys tormenting Siri.
For those of you who may not know, Siri is the personal assistant available on most Apple products. She can create reminders, set off alarms, open applications, play requested music selections and perform a variety of other tasks.
I use her primarily to make calendar appointments and get the most recent weather forecasts. The Mister, on the other hand, enjoys asking questions like, “how do you cure the common cold?” He also likes to ask how she’s doing today, if she knows any good jokes and what she likes to do for fun.
He gets a kick out of the confused answers he gets, since Siri can’t answer emotional questions. I, however, enjoy the way Siri never seems to understand the way the Mister’s country boy accent mixes words together. It’s pretty hilarious to see what she comes back with as a translation.
But I still love the silly boy. Despite his sometimes crazy antics, his goofy faces and the times he goes out to the dumpster wearing soccer shorts, knee-high socks and muddy boots, I still love him.
I’ve heard it said that “we’re all a little weird, and life’s a little weird, but someday we find someone who’s weirdness complements ours and we fall into a mutual weirdness and call it love.” (Or something along those lines, at least.) And I believe it’s true.
Ultimately, I have no complaints. I married a wonderful man who loves me and takes care of me. He cooks dinner when I’m sick (albeit a bit warily), washes the dishes when I’m overwhelmed with work, and generally tries to be helpful around the house. He calls when he’s going to be late or if he’s not coming home for lunch; he asks if I want anything from somewhere before he comes home… He’s wonderful.
But alright, enough bragging on my part. I wouldn’t want every other woman in the world to get jealous.
And ok, so maybe I’m in a bit of a mushy, sappy mood this week. I haven’t felt all that great since Thursday afternoon, and the Mister has been doing a wonderful job letting me rest and bringing me things I need and generally taking good care of me.
So, in other words, everybody say a quick prayer that I get to feeling better soon (no mom, I do not have flu-like symptoms at all. Do not text me frantically as soon as you read this.) and don’t let opportunities pass to tell someone that you love them.
There, sappy moment over. Everyone return to your regularly scheduled activities.