Casaubon's Book

Real Love

I don’t think Eric and my eyes have ever met in one of those soppy, romantic looks couples give each other over a puddle of vomit before.  Yesterday, however, they did.

We’ve been battling a nasty, slow moving stomach virus at our house (four down, four still to go ;-P), and one of the children threw up rather spectacularly all over their bed, the rug and (especially helpful) a gigantic pile of library books (I guess we now own a smelly $50 copy of the illustrated Silmarillion.  Yay.)  I walked in on the scene, yelled for husbandly help, and he set to the rug while I faced the library books.  It was unbelievably gross.  It stank.  It was part of parenting, and well, oddly funny.  Somewhere in the middle, we looked at each other and all I could think was “Well, there’s no one I’d rather be doing this with.”

In half an hour the room was repaired, the victim tucked into bed with ginger tea, the smell aired out and we were laughing again, and I said to him “There’s no one I’d rather clean up puke with.”  I think he thought it was romantic.  I hope.

Buying gifts freaks my husband out.  He is famously awful at it.  One year he realized he didn’t have a birthday gift for me, and so stopped at the only remotely plausible gift-purchasing spot on the trip home, and provided the gift…complete with the “final price reduction” orange sticker on his panicked choice.  For my 39th birthday (a year and half gone) he recently ordered my gift.  He still hasn’t bought me anything for forty (in August). For HIS forty-third birthday I have promised him I’ll give him the gift of just telling him what I want from now on, but he’d probably also prefer I just order it myself.

Love poetry is not his forte.  He doesn’t write romantic cards, he doesn’t buy or pick flowers, and the only valentine’s gift I have ever received from him was off-price chocolate bought the day after the holiday.  Not being a big fan of V-day myself, I don’t care, but I have occasionally teased him about the gift thing, or other romantic failures.

But in 12 1/2 years of parenting, I’ve never changed a diaper when Eric was around to do it for me.  The garbage magically goes away somewhere, and I don’t have to take it out.  When spring comes around and the gigantic-mega barn cleaning comes, I trot out with my shovel and am often told “No, it is ok, I don’t mind doing it.”  When I was knocked down for two days last week by the same stomach virus, moaning and wishing for death, Eric took over tending five children, cooking and cleaning, and the tending of the farm and it all went smoothly on without me (we  also had the kind help of Phil-the-housemate here, which was invaluable), while cups of tea appeared like magic when I asked.

Despite the fact that Eric does not like change, and generally views anything different in the hobbitish “nasty, messy things that make you late for dinner” way, he has accompanied me through crazy journeys of change – from dating to marriage, marriage to parenthood, several moves, low energy life on a farm, and finally into foster parenting where your family structure changes when the phone rings.  He did it for me, initially, and then he learned to like it.

Which is why I felt unaccountably soppy while we cleaned up the horrors in the boys’ room yesterday morning.  He hasn’t had the stomach virus yet – we’re both hoping he misses it, but he probably won’t.  He’d never, however, suggest I should do the cleaning alone just to avoid him getting sick (which in retrospect, I probably should have done, but it didn’t occur to me at the time).

He feels guilty about the presents sometimes, and thinks I must wish for a romantic husband.  I do tease him about it, but I’m only teasing, because I wouldn’t trade the gifts he does give me for anything in the world. Not anything.

 

 

Comments

  1. #1 Denise
    February 11, 2013

    Sound romantic enough, the real kind. You make a good team :)

  2. #2 aimee
    oaxaca, Mexico
    February 11, 2013

    I wish I could convince my husband to give up on the gift giving thing. I have the opposite problem – he feels he absolutely MUST have a gift for all occasions, but he hates gift shopping and frankly isn’t very good at it. More than once I’ve gotten those hideous fake-looking roses sold out of a plastic bucket alongside his route home from work. Really, honey, you SHOULDN’T HAVE.

    I have enough stuff, too much stuff in fact (with the exception of books – never enough!). I’ve suggested, hinted and flat-out said that I much prefer we go out dancing or to a movie or even just the local bookstore together instead of a gift. You know – a date. Alas, he feels he hasn’t celebrated my birthday or our anniversary unless he has some thing to give me. Anything, really, just so he can hand something over.

    sigh.

  3. #3 Michelle
    February 12, 2013

    You chose… wisely <3

  4. #4 risa bear
    http://risashome.blogspot.com
    February 12, 2013

    Two thumbs up from us all.

  5. #5 Margaret
    February 12, 2013

    U A Fanthorpe wrote a poem about the practical sort of love your husband gives you, and mine gives me. We are both very lucky.

    There is a kind of love called maintenance
    Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it

    Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
    The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;

    Which answers letters; which knows the way
    The money goes; which deals with dentists

    And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
    And postcards to the lonely; which upholds

    The permanently rickety elaborate
    Structures of living, which is Atlas.

    And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
    Which knows what time and weather are doing
    To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
    Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
    My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
    My suspect edifice upright in air,
    As Atlas did the sky.

  6. #6 Stephen B.
    February 12, 2013

    He has my sympathies on the gift giving thing too.
    At least you all don’t have to do the Christmas gift thing….ugh!

    Here’s to hoping for a speedy recovery for all your family and Phil (not sure where he is on the virus’ schedule.)

  7. #8 Sarah in Oz
    February 12, 2013

    You are fortunate beyond belief and I don’t think you should trade that kind of love for all the hearts and flowers in the world.
    I have a friend who when I got swine flu drove for an hour and half across town, with his new (and bewildered) girlfriend in tow, stopping to pick up aspirin, tissues and orange juice, to make me a week’s supply of real Jewish chicken soup, empty the kitty litter, and change my sheets, which he then took home and washed for me. And then he called every day for a week to make sure I was ok.

  8. #9 aaron
    anywhere
    February 12, 2013

    *AND* he has a cool beard!

  9. #10 Greenpa
    http://littlebloginthebigwoods.blogspot.com/
    February 12, 2013

    You know, Sharon; after all these years, you and I know each other on an unusually intimate level. You and I are startlingly compatible- movies, books, parenting, life choices…

    And I’ve known this for quite a while, but this post brought it to the surface: I look forward to whenever it happens that you and I meet in person. But I also look forward to someday meeting your Eric. I know you. Therefore- he’s got to be a pretty spectacular human.

    : – )

    Happy Valentine’s Day, you kids.

  10. #11 D.Smith
    February 13, 2013

    Worse may be when one kid crawls over another kids bed vomiting all the way….or all four have chicken pox in a MI blizzard with no electricity. We have the same kind of husbands and I’d much rather have this kind of love than lavish gifts I don’t need or want. He became a farmer ’cause I wanted to live in the country. How much more love can you get than that…and 45 years of it so far

  11. #12 Yael
    February 13, 2013

    Awww! That truly made me smile, I want love like this exactly! :)

  12. #13 sumac
    February 14, 2013

    What a gorgeous peak oil Valentine’s Day Post !

  13. #14 Claire
    suburban St. Louis, MO
    February 15, 2013

    I do in fact buy what I want for b-days and other gift-giving occasions so the DH knows what I want. But he gave me an extra gift that I really needed and would never have asked for on the just-past birthday. That’s one of the ways he shows love.

    BTW, your other website has expired … maybe you didn’t notice?

  14. #15 Lisa H.
    February 22, 2013

    I second this: BTW, your other website has expired … maybe you didn’t notice?

    Hoping that you will keep the other one, I do like to refer to it now and then.

    Lisa H.

  15. #16 Phil-the-housemate
    SUNYA Observatory
    March 7, 2013

    Sweet!