My husband has always been a considerate giver of gifts. For special occasions, he tries to find things no one else would have imagined to give. Even during the course of “regular life,” I’ll sometimes come home from work to find a book he thought I might like, or a television show recorded that he thought I would want to watch, or a tee-shirt purchased because it reminded him of me. He does the same thing for our children. This aspect of his personality is not reserved just for family. I have seen him time and again go the extra mile to be thoughtful to friends, colleagues, and students. Living with him, I have tried to become more conscious of how important little outward demonstrations can mean to others. I don’t come close to approaching my husband’s natural ease and generosity. But he has made me aware of how much it can mean to know that another person is thinking of you, even for no reason at all.
Last Christmas, my husband gave me a little wooden box with a bird painted on the front. On top were the words “Believe in yourself.” And on the back he had written “I do.” At the time, I thought the gift was cute, but didn’t pay it a lot of attention. I put it on a shelf in my room. Over the course of the past year, I have found myself drawn to that little painting, and it has grown to become one of my most beloved articles. Every time I look at it, I think of my kind husband, my best friend, who has never failed to encourage me, especially during some of the hardest times I had in past years.
We have been together for more than 18 years, married now more than 12 of them. There have been times when it has seemed like we barely know who each other is. And then there have been other times when it has been glaringly obvious that we know each other all too well. But most of the time, our relationship rests on the foundation enjoyed by two people who understand each other with a unique closeness, respect each other with special esteem, love each other with integrity and honesty. Every day, I try to be thankful for that gift. Admittedly, sometimes I neglect to remember and appreciate. I like to think I make up for it other times by wondering why I have been so fortunate to meet and spend my life with him.
My husband has always proven he believes in me. He stood by me when I didn’t think I was smart enough to keep up with students in a graduate program. When my grandmother died and I felt like my heart would never heal. Both times we moved and I freaked out over finances and details. During the many anxious days of our wedding planning. The many times I doubted I could ever be a good stepmother. The long nights after 2001, when I was worried over his safety working in New York City. Throughout my pregnancy as I grew increasingly uncomfortable and exhausted. After our son was born and I struggled to regain a sense of stability and confidence. During long years of professional angst and anxiety. Over this entire summer, as I grappled with turning 40 and everything it implied, or at least everything from it I inferred. It was always Michael providing steady and unfailing support, being my rock, holding my hand, believing.
He is an easily embarrassed person, and I am not sure quite how he will react to such a public demonstration of appreciation and affection. But he deserves it. And not for having my back. Just because he is a great man, a devoted father and son, a dedicated teacher, a kind friend, and a better husband than I could have expected to deserve.
My post today, this Christmas Eve 2012, is to assure my husband that I do believe as well. But believing in myself is less important than it may have been at one time. I have come to better recognize in the past year how much I believe in our family, our children, our home, our life together. And how much I always will rely on and believe in him.
“You have everything you need if you just believe.”