Her Bad Mother

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Perfect Love

It was my husband's birthday the other day. Day before yesterday, in fact; one day after my return from the Road Trip That Shall No Longer Speak Its Name. It was a nice birthday - we went down to the lake and had a picnic and WonderBaby sort of sang Happy Birthday - but I didn't write about it. I didn't post a picture, or even leave a little Happy Birthday message here.

I don't say much about my husband here, on the blog. He appears, now and again, a peripheral character in the stories that I tell. Sometimes, rarely, he comes to centre stage, as an antagonist or foil, in some adventure or misadventure that I'm recounting, but even then the story is usually not about him but about our home or our neighbourhood or - most often - our child, and his prominence in the story is merely a function of his indispensability to the scene.

I don't say much about my husband here, nor about our marriage. I don't, I feel, have enough propriety over those stories to assert myself as narrator of those stories. They are not mine to share. They are his stories - or, in the case of our marriage, our stories. So it is that you rarely read anything substantive about my husband.

Which is a shame, because you would like him, you really would. He's a wonderful, wonderful man: one of those souls who is just genuinely good, genuinely concerned about the world around him and everyone in it, who is just naturally, effortlessly generous and kind and not in the cloying manner of someone who wants recognition or a place in the kingdom of God for their efforts but in the straightforward and authentic manner of someone who knows that we all just have to be good to one another if we're going to get along. And he loves animals and children, all of them, except maybe the really unpleasant ones and the older ones with the silly pants dropped below their skinny asses (the kids, not the animals), and always has, even before we had our own. I've seen him moved, really moved, at the sight of young boys at play.

All of which would make him sound really kind of wussy, but that's the thing, probably the biggest thing, that I love about him: he is at once the kindest and gentlest human being that I know, and the strongest. He's a big guy - 6 foot 5 - and he's got broad shoulders and strong arms and although he thinks that he's a bit too thin, he's not at all, and he uses every muscle in his body and brain to take care of us, his wife and his daughter, whether that means getting car commercials made in the Arctic circle so that there's money for diapers and holidays and a roof over our heads or building a swingset in the backyard so that WonderBaby can play first thing in the morning and last thing at night or gutting the bathroom so that I can have a soaker tub (he meant well, he really did) or protecting us from bears (which he hasn't done yet but I know that he could.)

He's funny; he's really, really funny. He can make me laugh harder than anybody, although sometimes he gets carried away with the puns and I have, on more than one occasion, had to stifle (usually unsuccessfully) exasperated groans.

He's manly, in the best sense of the word, in the classical sense of the word, whether taken from the ancient Greek (from the Greek aner, the genitive andros, the condition of being excellent in his form as a man, a male human being, in all that is characteristic of that masculine humanity) or the ancient Roman (from the Latin vir, the root of our word for virtue, which used to mean, as in the Greek, the condition of being excellent qua man - strong and spirited and inclined to apply strength and spirit and reason in the service of family and community.) He will, secretly, be pleased by this description, but he will be uncomfortable with my saying it out loud, with my public assertion that he is manly. He will be embarassed, and he will say so. I will reply that his embarassment makes him all the more manly, in my eyes.

He's not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination: he's not too good with keeping up with birthdays and anniversaries and he maybe expected a bit too much of me when he expected me to jump up and down excitedly at the prospect of spending a week in an RV with his mother (I didn't sell that one very well, did I? he said later, in a perfect expression of understatement)(and might I just add here, to avoid any possibility of further argument on the issue, that my subdued reaction to the suggestion of the mother-in-law/RV combo was not in any way a reflection of any antipathy toward his mother but rather a reflection of the bald fact that mothers-in-law and RVs do not, in combination, make for relaxing vacations. If anyone disagrees with me here feel free to speak up, but my bet is that this is a universal - nay, scientific - truth.) Also, he's not the tidiest person and did I mention the puns? He is not perfect.

But I'm not perfect either; contrary to all appearances, I am far from it. But I'm perfect for him and he's perfect for me and that, my friends, my dear, dear friends, is probably all that you need to know.

This Birthday Message Has Been Brought To You By Crayola Washable Markers and PBS.

We're perfect for each other, we two, we three.

Happy birthday, doofus. I love you.


Great heaping bajillions of thanks to K and Dispatch Mom and Miscellaneous Mum for awarding, respectively, "Mommy" and "The Street of Misfit Toys" Perfect Post Awards. So banal to say, but so, so true: I'm honoured. Muchly. Thank you.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderfully heartfelt posting -- reading it was very moving.

It's difficult to write about relationships without sounding cliche ridden and Hallmark card inspired to the point of being insipid.

C, you've transcended that -- both lucidly and lovingly.

11:41 AM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

A beautiful reflection on all the things we so rarely take the time to tell our significant other. Oh, if only we could remember to say this more often most relationships would be a much happier place to be.

Despite my early days of blogging, I, too, am finding Peanut's daddy is often ommitted from the storytelling. I think it is because I understand that while I may have chosen to open myself up, expose myself, my feelings, my deepest thoughts, he did not. I know just how very private he is about so much of his life, and to lay it out there on my blog, without his permission, would be a betrayal.

11:44 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Many happy returns to Her Bad Father...perhaps he'll outgrown the puns in time?

11:56 AM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Karen - no. They get worse with time.

11:59 AM  
Blogger S said...

I'm married to a prolific punnster, too. I know.

I was going to comment about how lovely a tribute to Her Bad Father this is -- but then I was done in by the otherworldly quality of WonderBaby's eyes in that last snap.

12:36 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Note to self: children make excellent birthday cards. Next time I won't be so quick to freak when my daughter colors her baby brother.

Happy birthday to the hubs!

12:44 PM  
Blogger Marty, a.k.a. canape said...

We too say that we aren't perfect, but we are perfect for each other.

I thought it was a second marriage that made us more realistic in our proclamation, but after reading your post, I think that maybe it's just because we finally found the right match.

12:47 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Perfect for you is always better than perfect. Who wants perfect? They make you look bad!

Here's to broad-shouldered fellas who love you.

12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely tribute.

And MILs + RVs = unrelaxing is certainly scientific fact.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

Happy birthday, HBF.

This was beautiful, Catherine.

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like wuv, twue wuv.

Almost makes me reconsider my determined spinster status. Almost. But clearly, the best ones ARE taken. Lucky you. And him. And WonderBaby.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Avalon said...

Can I borrow Wonderbaby this evening and just wash off that one part of her leg that says "Daddy"? Today is my Mother's birthday and she's probably sick of the same old boring cards.

BTW, hope HBF had a fantastic birthday!

1:11 PM  
Blogger Damselfly said...

Six - five!!!

Keep him close. After a post like that, women will be lining up to nab him if you ever decide to separate. ;)

1:15 PM  
Blogger tracey.becker1@gmail.com said...

Awwwww. Sweet post for your hubby. Hope it was a happy birthday, and that wonderbaby birthday greeting has got to be the cutest one ever!

1:23 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

That was really, really good.

Look, I've turned into one of those "GREAT BLOG!!!1!!" people.

I hope he reads this and gets all "awww" and possibly misty eyed as I did.

1:23 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Yeah, he'll get all 'aaawww' but then he'll get defensive about the RV. Which, please. Like I could entirely resist blogging, just a little, about going RVing with the MIL? It's National Lampoon, fer chrissakes.

1:32 PM  
Blogger Girlplustwo said...

i will never tire of reading about love and the love for our families. and in your case, it's Bad Love. Bad, Bad Love. and i love it.

1:40 PM  
Blogger Jonathon Morgan said...

this was great -- i feel the same way about writing much about my girlfriend. i couldn't articulate why (other than I thought she'd hate it) -- but you're totally right. i don't think it'd be ok to share "our" stories when, really, my blog is all about me. ;)

1:56 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

This is exactly what I say to Misterpie, too. You're not perfect, but you're just right for me. BUt in our case, it's me with the puns and Misterpie with the groans. (as you may know by now.)

Happy birthday, HBF!

2:02 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Yeah, but with you, Ms. Pie, the puns are outrageously DIRTY.

HBF is pretty staid in his punning. I might be more interested if he did the odd limerick that made use of the word twat.

2:04 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

Perfect is highly overrated and no fun at all

You is one lucky family to have found each other.

And my GOD why didn't anyone force me to buy the boots - B is yelling BOOOOOOOOOOOOOTS at me right now. Damn.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Run ANC said...

Lovely. I relegate Mr Earth to the sidelines in my blog too, but he is anything BUT in real life. We should all take the time to write a post like this.

You got yourself one great MANLY man there!

2:37 PM  
Blogger flutter said...

This is wonderful and the best and only thing we need to know about your Manly man.

2:46 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Wonderful post about your husband, wonderful.

And I can so relate to the puns part. My husband also has a real fondness for them. Sigh.

Hope he had a great birthday with his girls. ;-)

2:52 PM  
Blogger karengreeners said...

Happy Birthday HBH/F! I had no idea he was that tall - when you're as short as I am, everybody is just, well, tall.

I love the diaper/pink boots combo. Very hip.

3:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful post....May all your husband's birthday wishes this year come true!

4:15 PM  
Blogger Sharon L. Holland said...

Happy Birthday to HBF. He sounds like a great guy.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Karianna said...

Happy Birthday Husband-Boy, the Mr. HBF Himself!

5:13 PM  
Blogger Phoenix said...

WOnderful post HBM.

Happy Birthday to Her Bad Daddy.

I would never have thought to write on a kid. But it seems like a cool idea, especially since they all write on themselves all the time.

5:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh Catherine, I loved this post. I'm so envious at how you can write so eloquently and so perfectly.

I wish I could find that talent deep within myself.

Happy Birthday, HBF. You are married to a brilliant and lovable woman. And oh how she loves you so.

5:32 PM  
Blogger The City Gal said...

Happy Birthday HBF :)

Ladies, I just wrote a post on late pregnancies for career women:

I'd like to get your input. Please come and leave your comments.

5:35 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

Happy birthday, HBF. I hope to someday meet you in person.

6:18 PM  
Blogger Lawyer Mama said...

Lovely post.

And I would agree about MIL and R/V. I love my MIL but that sounds like one of Dante's circles of hell.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Possibly the sweetest, coolest paen to love I've heard. You do sound perfect together. Happy birthday to the hubs!

8:45 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Lawyer Mama - it's the fifth circle of hell. I checked.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well he sounds worth of you, thank heavens. Just lovely. Send a birthday hug from here in the capital of All Things Evil (at least for now.)
I don't write about my husband either and am grateful to you for sharing your reluctance to do so. He says it would be OK but it seems vampirish - pulling material from his life. I once posted a quote from Michael Chabon that included this: “Telling the truth, when the truth matters most, is almost always a frightening prospect. If a writer doesn’t give away secrets, his own or those of the people he loves; if she doesn’t court disapproval, reproach and general wrath, whether of friends, family, or party apparatchiks; if the writer submits his work to an internal censor long before anyone else can get their hands on it, the result is pallid, inanimate, a lump of earth."
I guess he's right but for now at least some things belong to the people living them - at least for me.
That adorable man is very lucky to have you - but he sounds like he's adorable enough to know that so just tell him happy birthday.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Mom2Amara said...

Happy birthday HBF!

Dad2Amara hates when I write about him so I tend to shy away from it too. But if I could describe him as poetically as you describe HBF, Dad2Amara might change his mind!

8:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

He sounds absolutely doofusly devine.

But then a man that married you is bound to be my friend.

But a man who APPRECIATES a good PUN, well, he speaks to my heart.

I can't wait to meet him. I know I will oneday when I'm knocking at your door.

I hope the three of you have a terrific year together.

8:54 PM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

He sounds like a lovely person. Happy birthday, Mr. HBM.

Although, I'm totally with you on the RV/MIL combo. I like my MIL, too, and we get along quite well, considering I kidnapped her much-younger-than-me son to another country for nefarious purposes. But even getting along with her as well as I do, I wouldn't want to spend a night with her in and RV, never mind a week.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

Oh, and I am digging the pink cowboy boots.

9:43 PM  
Blogger FENICLE said...

Thank God for washable markers!!!!

10:28 PM  
Blogger Jenifer said...

And that is all that matters.... that you are perfect for each other.

And Wonder baby is so stinkin cute I can hardle stand it!

And you are very welcome for the perfect post, it was greatly deserved!

10:34 PM  
Blogger Mommato2 said...

Happy Birthday to Her Bad Father!

Too funny about the mother in law and the RV's - my hubby wanted to do the same thing until he saw the look of shock and horro on my face..then he never brought it up again. Phew!

11:07 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

That was lovely.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where did you find him? Ebay? I need a man like that, wanna trade?
Just kidding. You're a lucky lady!

1:12 AM  
Blogger Susanne said...


And I was very relieved to see that the markers were washable. For a minute I worried.

Happy birthday to your husband.

7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I might weep.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Happy Bday to HBF!

When things are perfect, you can't appreciate them -- it's that little bit of grit that makes it real. You know, all grain of sand and pearls and all that.

That's one dirty dirty baby. Hope you're not still bathing her in the bucket ...

12:04 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

She's still in the bucket, Mimi. Still in the bucket.

12:40 PM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

Happy Birthday to Her Bad Father and congrats to you on finding such a nearly perfect man. Because you wouldn't want a truly perfect man, they're no fun. And usually made out of plastic.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooo, that's odd, there's supposed to be 50 comments here, but I can't see them!

I'm too distracted to comment now [easily distracted person]

Anyway. I would respectfully suggest that using your child as an aide memoire, may not be in her, or your, best interests. If she's still scribbling on herself when she's 47 like me, you'll only have yourself to blame!

2:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I won't cry at your beautiful post, but I will steal parts of it the next time it's my husband's birthday and I need something really wonderful to write in a card.

Happy birthday HBF. You and yours are the cutest family I don't know!

2:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome tribut! He sounds like "one stop shopping".

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tribute! Sorry.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Rachel (Crazy-Is) said...

I've never commented before, but I love your blog.

That was such a beautiful post. It made me stop and think about all the wonderful things about my husband. Things I may not always appreciate. You said it right, my husband may not be perfect, but he's perfect for me.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! What a beautiful post and a beautiful man!

6:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Cath for the awesome birthday tribute although I am slightly reminded of this



PS The contractor called. His schedule has changed, he wont be able to do the bathroom till October.

10:24 AM  
Blogger Suburban Gorgon said...

That may be the most romantic love letter I have ever read.

And the Kraken used to have those boots. We took her to Nashville in them and people fell apart wherever we went.

8:14 PM  
Blogger mo-wo said...

Oh come on. When those animals go around with the pants near their knees. I mean someone should just shot those twit gophers and guinea pigs, shouldn't they?

Yes we have seen the manly pics and had nice comments from the BadDad.

You do right not to write it all. Or worse yet, have him write with you. yeeshh.

3:15 AM  
Blogger moplans said...

Is it just me or does that last shot of wonderbaby show more of a likeness to HBH than her usual mini-HBM self?
Great Tribute.
I feel the same way about my huz, perfect for each other.

7:51 AM  

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