Conversations with my wife: Early birds

If it’s not the skunks, it’s the birds. None of God’s creatures wants us to get a good night’s rest.

I’ve mentioned before how we have a thriving skunk community in our neighborhood. They like to offer their perfumes to us in the night. If you’ve ever shared property with skunks, you know they can jolt you out of a stone dead sleep without saying a word.

The skunks come around from time to time, but in summer, the birds are out every morning. I have no problem with the birds. I’m a country boy; their joyful chirping doesn’t bother me. My wife, who is not a country boy, is driven up the wall by their chatter. By the laws of marriage (“for better or worse, richer or poorer, through plagues of birds, etc.”) this makes the birds my problem.

Every morning, not long after sunrise, the birds wake my wife, who reacts by closing the windows in our bedroom. Country boys are not accustomed to the noise of windows being closed on a pleasant June morning. Consequently, this wakes me up.

“Close the window if you don’t want to hear the morning announcements!”


WIFE: Sorry to wake you, but those birds are at it again.

ME: They’re just letting you know , “It’s morning time!”

WIFE: Could they whisper it? Or maybe wait until 7 o’clock? Let’s just leave the windows closed all night.

ME: It gets too hot in here. I’d likely be a wreck every morning.

WIFE: Let’s risk it.

ME: You know, some people buy recordings of birds singing to relax them.

WIFE: Singing? They call that singing? It sounds more like a brawl.

ME: Do you also hate the sound of a gentle rain?

WIFE: I swear, one of them is about to pull a knife.

ME: What about the ocean surf?

WIFE: The ocean is fine. It’s all one constant noise, not all these different notes and pitches these birds have.

ME: So if we could get more birds, and their noises all blended together . . .

WIFE: Have you ever heard bickering that blended together?

Not in our house, I haven’t. Wife wins that round.


The best 10 years, so far

Ten years ago, this happened.

She was young and beautiful. She’s still young and beautiful. I’m still short on hair. I wouldn’t want to go changing on her.

She’s given birth to three boys since then, which makes her youth and beauty even more amazing. The boys alternate between aging me and making me feel young. Somehow she always manages to stay young.

Do we drive each other crazy sometimes? Yup, that’s part of being married. But after 10 years, we have a good understanding of why this happens. We have different perspectives on some things, and these perspectives are bound to clash sometimes. At the heart of it, we have similar core values, which keeps the clash of perspectives from getting out of hand.

Most importantly, we can be confident we are not being driven crazy out of malice. When you know there’s no malice involved, it’s much easier to move past any disagreement. She’s never made me angry enough to forget how much I love her. She’s never come close to that.

Mostly, we drive each other happy. I know that’s not a real saying, but I’m trying to keep up a consistent theme. It’s why I’m not coming home wearing a toupee out of the blue. I’m trying to be consistent. Plus, toupees are kind of creepy. I think I can speak for my wife when I say that’s a core value we agree upon.

Five years ago, I commemorated our anniversary with this post: Five Years of Trading Bacon. I probably said it better back then than I am now. After a while, it gets harder to find new words to express how you feel. Also, we don’t trade as much bacon anymore. Three hungry children don’t leave us much bacon for anything. I’m sure bacon is one of the boys’ shared core values.

So how do I find fresh words to express a love that’s been the bedrock of my life for this long? I guess it’s just a matter of bigger numbers and greater degrees.

Happy anniversary to the love of my life. After 10 years, I am more happily married and more in love with you than ever before.

We’d all be sunk without her

I’ve got the easy part. I go to work at the same time every day. I get to have a relatively stable schedule. Occasionally, my day gets twisted around a little bit, having to drop off or pick up a kid here and there or stay home with them when they’re not in school. It may get me frazzled from time to time, but it’s still the easy part.

These many time-twisting tasks fall to my wife on all the days between my sporadic turns. On top of this, she works. She doesn’t have the luxury of working a full-time job, because the combination of children, time, and space won’t allow it. She works part-time jobs – several of them concurrently.

This requires a certain amount of daycare, for any of the boys who aren’t in school at any given time, and when I can’t take time off to be with them. She sets up the daycare. Honestly, it would drive me crazy making all the complex arrangements she manages, but she takes it in her Supermom stride. I don’t know how.

My wife is the most adaptable person I’ve ever met. Not only does she have to juggle jobs while juggling children, she also has to be able to reinvent routines for everybody when the old ones don’t work anymore. With children, things can change quickly, and she might have to leave behind people and places where she had hopes and plans to find a situation that works better for her family. Just the idea of this task daunts me, but she always seems to be able to pull it off. She always bounces back and finds a new way that works.

Don't we make a handsome couple?  And one of us is on top of things, too.

Don’t we make a handsome couple? And one of us is on top of things, too.

She must think I take all this for granted sometimes, and maybe she’s right. I’m human, and sometimes I get lost in my own issues. But I am always amazed at how, when the system seems near collapse, she bounces back and discovers a new way to make things work. I’m not that resilient, and I don’t know anybody else who is.

Our boys have always been the stars of this blog. My wife is funny, too, but that’s not the primary reason she deserves a little ink here. The fact is, our lives would not be anywhere near as fun or funny without her smoothing out the bumps for us. This is why she’s a superstar. This why I love her so much. And this is why we’re all lucky she’s the one masterminding the hard parts.

You can almost smell the love

It’s not quite time for the children to get up for school yet. They still reside in the happy world of dreams, peaceful angels in their slumber.  In the sleepy darkness before dawn, they have no inkling of the battle raging in the house around them.

Daddy is ready to leave for work. Showered and shaved, he has even applied the coating of lotion to his hands and face that Mommy insisted he start doing because she doesn’t want him to dry out like the old prune he is.

He steps into the bathroom where Mommy is drying her hair. He gives her a kiss and a “Love you,” then turns to leave, thinking he has escaped it this morning.

“Did you spray?” Her question freezes him in his tracks.

“No,” he sheepishly admits.

And then the chase is on.

It all started . . .

in the after-Christmas, clearance section of Target. Mommy found two half-priced gift boxes of scented items – one for Him and one for Her. Having both a Him and a Her in their marriage, Mommy deemed the pair of boxes a good bargain. They were lotions and perfumes (I guess men’s perfume is called cologne, but I don’t know much about it), the kind of gift that says “You were at the bottom of my list and I was long past being thoughtful by then. Also, you smell bad.”

perfume for manly men

Smelly enough for a woman, but made for a man. Say it with your deepest voice: “Cologne. “

Mommy was within her rights to pay half-price to smell the way she wished, but Daddy protested buying perfume to cover up his traditional Head & Shoulders scent (he still needs to shampoo the sides of his head). Daddy’s protests were in vain.

It actually all started . . .

decades ago on a dairy farm. Coming out of the barn, the boy Daddy learned the way to coexist with polite society was to divest himself of stink, not to purposely apply stink to himself. Nobody ever ran away from a farm kid they couldn’t smell. If he had nothing else going for him, at least they couldn’t blame him for smelling like air.

It also started . . .

in an upper-middle-class, suburban school, where the young Mommy’s friends wore designer clothes and had leisure to discover their own signature scents. They all smelled like something different, but none of them smelled like air or Head & Shoulders. None of the good ones did, anyway.

It ends this way.

Daddy runs. Mommy grabs the spray bottle of worldly man scent and chases him. After a moment, Daddy gives up his foolish hope of escape. All his flight will do is wake the children. He allows Mommy to shoot him a few times.

Mommy breathes deep. “Oh, you smell so good!” she says, dreamy in the eyes. But it’s nearly time for the children to wake, so she sends Daddy off to work to delight the nostrils of other people.

Daddy drives off to work, wondering if there isn’t a better time of day for the war to end.