Monday, September 6th 2010
Long. But I’m Making Up For A Few Years, Here.

Years ago when  I first started this site I had great ideas about how ‘real’ it would be here. This mattered to me, and mattered a lot. The concept of just saying what life was like around here – good and ugly and awful… somehow seemed right.

And then… I still value that, but I learned to just leave stuff out. Nothing wrong with that. But now I need to revisit something, and the only blog reference I have is from 2006. I’ve just ‘left it out’ in each subsequent year.

So. With the Real:

Mike either completely forgets my birthday, or worse, pretends to. (This year, it was ‘pretends to forget and refuses to acknowledge in any way until Way Too Late.’ Last year there was:  ”I did NOT forget, I just chose to not acknowledge it until 4 p.m. on a Saturday and that is different.”)

It’s the same, almost every year. The weird thing is, I’m SO easy. I don’t want things. Gifts are not necessary at all. Cake? I don’t even  like cake. And I’d just pass out and wake up punching if there were any kind of social thing given. I don’t like attention. That’s not me. ALL I need…? A kiss on the nose and a whispered “happy birthday” in the morning. That’s it. A sweet, free acknowledgment from him.

He will not or cannot do it.

There’s no other way to say it.

(If you don’t know him, let me be the first to assure you –  he’s a nice guy. Just not on my birthday.)

He may or may not do other things that he thinks should matter MORE to me – later in the day when I’m convinced he’s the most passive-aggressive creature on the planet and I’m not sure why he’s insisting on this route again...

And so I then  a) spend all day focused on not being hurt by this weird, predictable pattern b) failing at that, try desperately hard to have a good day anyway, and c) failing ALL of the above,  explain why this bothers me and listen while he feigns shock and says it will not happen again the next year and by then I’m just so tired and my eyes are puffy and I pretend to believe him rather than keep discussing it and telling him WHY I don’t believe it. It’s a pointless, annual birthday tradition, this discussion.

Background: In 2006 I am still battling baby weight, eating a lot of m&ms which cannot be helping the battle and I-can-see-that-clearly-now-thanks, and sounding oddly optimistic and naive.  If you’re annoyed that I seem to be trashing my dear husband on a blog, then please click and read the link below this paragraph. I AM kinda trashing my dear husband on a blog. I don’t usually do that. And let’s remember, he’s gotten off easy every September for the last few years when I’ve just “left it out”, and frankly, this realness is overdue and it’s impossible to address in such a way that paints him in a flattering light. (I’ve tried.)  In the next link there’s a really sweet and eloquent justification involving Befores and Afters that is so naive I wonder if I actually believed it when I wrote it. God help me, I’m afraid I did.

Right after I chew out a commenter named Ken (who probably went away and never returned), I lapse into Oddly Optimistic and Naive. And that’s a winning mood combination for a post, huh? I’m thinking I knew better, even in 2006.

And HERE is the post before that about the forgotten birthday of 2006. I wish I could find the pic of  the 8 Arrangements of Guilt Flowers I received, and I know it’s on this blog somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. If you have time, read the comments. The men, circa 2006,  really came out of the woodwork for that one. They probably fled after I chewed out Ken, though. And Geekwif, bless her, summed it up exactly when she said, “Personally, I don’t care if anyone else remembers my birthday as long as my hubby does. Everyone else can completely forget I exist, but if he forgets my birthday? The entire day is ruined.”

Note: The same is true, if not more so, when he PRETENDS to forget. It’s just weird and even if there is some really good psychological reason I cannot fathom – it just seems mean.

So this year. I restrained myself from sticking a communion cracker in Mike’s right ear canal during church. I wondered about how you’re not really supposed to take communion if you have a problem with someone that is unresolved and how serious God really is about that concept. I considered grabbing purse and scooting out of pew and leaving right that second.  Mighta if I were on the end. But I was stuck in the middle. At that point I was still trying to smile and pretend I was fine and I didn’t care about such a tiny, overlooked acknowledgment and I was probably being silly over the whole thing to even care. (That particular self-talk does not work. Still, I try it every year.)

So I told God that we both knew it was a victory all in itself I hadn’t done something unholy with that little white cracker and I hoped that was enough. (It’s not. I know.)

After church I told Mike I’d made plans and when I’d be home. He asked if I was mad. I did that smile/shake head no combination that looks very serene, but really means, “WE ARE IN A PUBLIC PLACE AND YOU KNOW I AM MAD AND YOU KNOW WHY I AM MAD AND IF YOU WANT TO PRETEND OTHERWISE AND ASK ME THEN I WILL PRETEND AND DO THIS STUPID SERENE SHAKE HEAD NO AND SMILE THING. ALSO? YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW LUCKY YOUR RIGHT EAR CANAL IS, BUSTER.”

So. I smiled and left. Got in car and totally berated self for letting one tiny inaction matter. I should be above that. Especially when I’ve had a whole year to get ready to be above that. Especially when I’ve had a whole marriage to get ready to be above that.

Mike called and asked where I was. Said he needed to ‘fix something.’

Note: That is not endearing. I am not a radiator.

He met me in a parking lot and did his version of “Oops, I Did It Again.” (It’s nothing like Britney’s, and isn’t even musical.)  I did not throw arms around him and act gracious and forgiving. 5 or 10 years ago I would have.

I drove away wondering what about this pattern was in my control, and thus changeable. The problem is in HAVING to rely on him for that one small thing. If I could just not care… but I’ve tried that and I do. So what else…?

If I’d listened to some of y’all in 2006, I woulda known. Y’all said “go away”. “Be on a trip.” And I remember thinking y’all were kinda hardcore. But driving away yesterday I came up with that idea, too, and didn’t remember it was suggested here until I read it last night. And we’re right. I’ll try that next year. Wake up in some sweet town with no one there to NOT kiss my nose and whisper happy birthday, not because it’s his choice… but because it’s mine…?

It’s not ideal. But clearly, I can’t have ideal. No one promised “ideal.” And waiting around isn’t working.

So next year I’ll take a little trip.  I just wish I’d listened to y’all sooner.

I’ve always wanted to learn to surf… is September too late for that? Or… I could go back to that place in Marble Falls with the amazing pie… in my family there’s a tradition of chocolate birthday pie instead of cake…

Next year will be great. There will be less than ideal other tiny, inconsequential things to worry myself about, but this will not be one of them.

~hm

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