It's 1:28 in the morning. I'm here alone in our bed while you're sleeping on the top bunkbed in Caleb's room. You've taken on the responsibility of handling our vomiting son while I handle our teething daughter.
In the morning when we're woken before our bodies have gotten adequate rest, and we blink our blurred eyes and rub our dark undereye circles and walk slowly downstairs to make our kids breakfast, they will be greeted at the table with the stuffed animals you bought for them and the books I bought for them, and we will tell them Happy Valentine's Day! And let them know they are loved.
Then we will make them breakfast and take care of whoever has needs and our Valentine's Day gift to each other will most likely look like trading off taking naps. Some days just turn out this way and we do the best we can.
Tonight before the vomiting began and the teething baby woke up crying, we were watching an episode of "Tiny Houses" and you asked me if I would ever live in one. At first I said, "No, never!" You know I'm a girl who needs her space to think and just be for a minute before joining back in the group. But then I watched the episode and changed my answer. "Well, not with our kids, I wouldn't. But if it were just with you, I could do it."
I really do feel this way, you know. Even after thirteen years. Especially after. I think that says something about us, don't you? To not mind living in a 200 square foot house together, to still like each other that much?
I know you know me well enough that there would be times I would need to curl up in the small space next to the washer and dryer to write something without interruption or read a book and you would give me that time. And I know you well enough that there would be times you would need loud music and loud laughter and lively conversations that would fill the 200 square feet from corner to corner so full it would threaten to burst the teensy glass windows.
I would decorate our 1'x1' back porch with those backyard lights I love so much and we would drag our small folding breakfast nook outside and eat dinner together there on autumn nights.
And if we argued or things got tense because I grew tired of cooking on a one-burner stove and you've had it because I let my hair clog up the drain in our kitchen/shower....what then? Maybe I would hide under the covers for a minute and you'd step outside and stare at the enormous sky and inhale deeply? The good news is, I'm not really worried. We would figure it out. Even in a Tiny House, I have every confidence in us that we would be okay.
I've written about us many times, and will continue to. I want our children to know who their parents were as they were growing up. Right now they're self-consumed in their own needs, without any real idea there are two adults in their peripheral vision who have emotions and needs as well. This is how it should be, I think--within reason of course. The day will come soon enough when their horizon will broaden.
When that day does come, I want them to know our story. After 12 years of leaving his wet-from-the-shower towels everywhere but on a hook, their dad showed their mom how much he loves her by starting to hang up his towel during their 13th year together. And I want them to know that after 12 years of wearing wrinkled clothes, their mom showed their dad how much she loves him by opening up the dryer and folding laundry that was still hot enough that the buttons on the jeans burned her fingertips, because their dad loves un-wrinkled clothes.
Our love is a work in progress of the very best kind. It's one built on all of the experiences we have had and will have. Our kids are lucky to have parents who still try, and work with and for each other. I think one day they'll realize how rare this is.
I love you, Ben. Your voice is still the one I want to hear when I'm worried or feeling lonely. Your Big Laugh still makes me laugh, every time. You walking through the door at the end of work is still the best part of my day.
Thank you for the last 13 years of Valentine's Days and for loving me every day in between them.
Your Favorite Wife