Hubby turns 31 today. Happy Birthday!
You learn a lot about a person when you're trying to maintain a long-distance relationship, and for both our first and second efforts at dating we were long-distance. I told people right before we got married that we had never lived in the same zip code. Ever. Mostly, you learn how to communicate. Hubby learned to write a few more details in his emails to me, and I learned to use the phone without twitching. You learn to live a life independently of the other person while constantly thinking about which parts of the day will be most interesting to share with the other. You learn to value the time you are together - even if it's just watching a movie.
Then, we got married, and there were new levels of learning about one another. I hate having my feet touched, but Hubby has permission to rub them. I feel like I can't pass it up on behalf of all the women out there who would love to have a significant other rub their feet occasionally. (You're welcome.) That, and he gives a pretty good foot rub and the gesture is undeniably thoughtful.
Then, we had a kid, and everything was on the table. I knew Hubby had a keen ability to identify crazy, lazy, scums, bums, and keepers in people - which makes me uber-honored that he thought I was a decent partner-for-life. He could pick out a bad egg after only a few minutes of conversation, and I usually disagreed. But he is always right. When we had Little E, I grew more and more impressed with his intuition. If I was struggling with something, say, feeding her without getting spit on, I would leave for a couple hours (under the pretense of needing some "alone" time...okay, that wasn't pretense) knowing full well that when I came back he would have a solution. Feeding her slower did the trick. No more pureed sweet potatoes as an accessory.
We learned that Hubby was the more cautious and protective parent, and I was swinging her around at 3-months. He sits on the edge of his seat when she goes "exploring" underneath her high chair; I give a casual glance of "yeah, sometimes she gets stuck but she figures it out." One day when he found her chewing on yet another "toy" that we had different perspectives on danger levels he patiently explained his point of view. To which I passive aggressively responded to Little E, "I think your daddy thinks I just stay at home and drop you on your head all day." We're different. But, that has been a wonderful balance.
He's great a nicknames. Somehow they just stick when he assigns them. I've been given Sunshine (awww). The only one that I've ever vetoed was Pumpkin. Somehow the image of a bright, orange gourd just didn't say "I love you" via nickname. So, Little E got that one. Except for one night, during a meltdown, when we both got it. I shuffled into our bedroom, mumbled "Nick", held out our cooing daughter (awake and ready to go at 3 AM!), and stuttered through "I. Can't. Do. This. Anymore." It was the second or third night in a row of these shenanigans and that's consistently my tipping point (why I don't take naps to catch up when I can is beyond me - and Hubby). He sprung out of bed (yes, he springs out of bed regardless, but this was an urgent-to-your-rescue spring which I appreciated greatly) with ease, opened his arms to Little E and said "Come here Pumpkin." She willingly switched parents, and I joined her but sobbing instead of smiling. "Umph. Uh. Umph. Waaaa." To which he replied, in his semi-groggy state, "Come here Pumpkin. You're not a bad mother. Go to bed." He gave me a butt-smack and sent me on my way. In the morning, I only remembered that he had called us both Pumpkin. He was in agony for his (his words, not mine) insensitive butt-slap. What was this? Football? I didn't remember that part, and I thought it was hysterical. I was less offended and reminded again of why I love this man. He still makes me laugh - completely unintentionally.
I knew his "I can't watch this face" from early on, but I had to learn what caused it: movies or shows with awkward situations (think Meet the Fockers and some episodes of House Hunters) and the end of Virginia basketball games. He looks down at his phone, turns his head to stare at me with his "tell me when it's over" face, or just starts getting up and down, leaving the room, returning, watching what happens while standing and then walking away.
Perhaps this is why we both appreciate good humor in animated films - no opportunities for awkward moments. For the longest time we were the only non-parents in the theaters for any and every G or PG flick that came out. Little E better look out when she's old enough to go! The first film we saw together after Little E arrived was Kung Fu Panda 2. We had lower expectations since it was a second-film in the series, and we all know the track records on those being good. Except it was awesome. Except that, as parents, he almost had to pull out his "I can't watch this face" for the part that shows where the parents had to abandon their little baby panda for his own safety. We both got verklempt. Just one more thing we've learned about each other and life together: parenthood makes you a sappy mess. Too late to go back now; glad we're in it together.
Happy Birthday Hubby! Looking forward to another 31 years of learning about you, from you, and with you. I think you're awesome!