Happy birthday, you.
We’ve been through a lot, you and I. Ten years, four homes, two countries and one son (I’m still not entirely clear on what happened there…) later, and, to my astonishment, you’re still here. Um…how come?
Not that I’m complaining. See, you make life a lot easier for me. To start with, you earn more than I do, so I never really have to worry about feeling superior, financially speaking. You’re also much smarter than I am, so I don’t have to worry about feeling superior there, either. Personally, I also think you’re a lot better looking than me too, though I am rather dashing.
You also cook. And that’s nice, because I can’t. Yes, I make the pancakes on the weekend and the odd stir-fry with way too much soy sauce, but you know what your fudge does to me…
And you clean. Which is also nice, because I don’t.
In short, you make things happen. You’re an incessant doer, and while I know it stresses you out – me too – I want you to know that I notice. There are a hundred little things you do that, whether I say it or not, I notice. And there are a million other little things you do that, of course, I don’t. And you know what? You don’t really berate me all that much for it. Not really…
Oh, and your ability to make me feel wrong about everything is a blessing, because I’m right way too much of the time.
So what does all this mean? Perhaps on my birthday, you can tell me what I mean to you, but right now, at the risk of making this all about myself (I know you’ll forgive me – I never do that), I want you to know what you mean to me. This isn’t something I say enough.
The simplest way I can put it is this: you saved me. Think of it as tough love, but I would not be who I am today without you. I probably wouldn’t even be, today. How did you do that?
By being an incessant nag, and not ever accepting it when I didn’t want to go to therapy, or take the pills, or admit to my anger problems. By repeating yourself until you’re blue in the face, until finally something you said makes it into my thick skull. By making it impossible for me to harm myself, because you wouldn’t ignore it. By raging at me when I spent an entire day moping at home and not getting anything done. By raging at me whenever I don’t get something done, period. By making me realize that being numb and depressed just isn’t the way to live with other people.
In a nutshell, you’ve stood by me long after any other sane person would have walked away in disgust. You never gave up on me.
And you gave me a son (I suppose I gave you one as well – a kind of mutual birthday present). It wasn’t what I expected, but that’s okay, because I’ve come to quite like the little guy. Every time I’ve thought it was all pointless, that I couldn’t carry on, that life wasn’t worth living, I’ve seen his beautiful face, and realized that there was something I simply couldn’t leave behind; something I couldn’t live without.
You have given me something most people don’t get in a lifetime, and you’ve given it to me twice: unconditional love. I have it from our son, and I have it from you. You might disagree (I hope not), but I don’t have any other explanation for why you’re still here after ten years, four homes, two countries and a son. I haven’t exactly made it worth your while.
So I’m going to give you the best day I can tomorrow. You’re in control, even if we don’t go to see the movie at the only theater in town that’s showing it that I already bought the tickets for. Because that doesn’t matter, if it makes you happy, and helps you to forget your stress for just one day. And one day is probably all it’ll be, because I’m sure I’ll be pissing you off again right away.
So happy birthday, sweetie. I love you more than you know, and I can’t wait to get really, really old, and know that you’ll be there with me.