…and I just run around the kitchen like an obedient, but clueless sous-chef:
"Babygirl, pass me the 8-inch springform pans, please."
"The ones with the latches on the side and the bottom that comes out."
"Oh. Why didn't you say that in the first place?"
I wonder, thirteen years ago on the night of my high school graduation when he asked me to marry him, if he had any idea what a bum deal he was getting. I don't cook. I can cook, but I just don't. He does most of the cleaning. On a good day I might wash some clothes, but I guess we're fairly even
on that because both of us despise any and all things related to
laundry (except sniffing the detergent – that's pretty fun. Simple
pleasures). He does nearly all of the grocery shopping because I can't stick to a budget to save my life. He can take $100 and feed a family of seven for a week (I'm not over-exaggerating). Other than the mortgage, I can't tell you how much the rest of our bills are. I can only make foggy guesses as to what the general ranges of our bank account balances are. I make the money (most of it, anyway), it gets deposited into our account, and what happens to it after that is almost a mystery to me. I just know the end result, which is after Frank spends an hour at the laptop clicking from one e-bill to the next and says, "Everything's paid."
"Good," I say, "now let's go spend some money doing something fun with the Brat Pack." That's about the extent of my contribution to the money distribution. We're like a human mullet – he's the business in the front; I'm the party in the back.
Thanks to watching my irresponsible stepfather (who was my main father figure from age 2 and I'll refer to him as SF) practically run my mom, sisters, and I into financial ruin, I'd grown to be a kick-ass-and-take-names type of woman from watching my mother's kick-ass-and-take-names tactics. For example – my freshman year in high school, my SF stupidly took an early retirement from the Army for a lump sum of $30,000. He had just three years to go before earning a full retirement with complete salary and benefits for life. He bought a house – again, Mom thought it was better to wait. About a year later, Mom just happened to be looking for some odd object when she happened to find an ill-hidden statement from the mortgage company saying that on DD/MM/YYYY YOU WILL BE EVICTED IF $XXXX IN UNPAID MORTGAGE IS NOT IN OUR OFFICE BY DD/MM/YYYY. The date was just two weeks away, and the letter had been received three weeks prior to Mom's discovery of it. It was a shock, to say the least, because she had been told by SF that the mortgage was being paid. His family was about to be evicted in two weeks, and he'd not said a single word to her about it.
So, she did what any kick-ass-and-take-names woman would do. That week, SF was away at Reserves drill as part of his early retirement stipulation. Mom rented a house and moved us in. SF returned that weekend to an empty house, save for a single Post-it note stuck to the refrigerator with only our new phone number written on it. It was their 12th anniversary weekend. Touché. Kick-ass with a side of class.
That event and others through the following years (Mom gave SF other chancess and he'd find some fresh way to fuck it up again) delivered one solitary message to me – keep your hands and eyes on the finances at all times. It's better to take care of things yourself and know they're done instead of entrusting someone else to do them for you.
And though I see it clearly now, it took a while for me to realize why that was such a huge step for me to take. I had given over all control to him, which is something on which I felt I always had to keep a tight grip. I had always loved and completely trusted Frank, even through the clumsy high school sweetheart phase and through the emotionally rocky first couple of years of our young marriage. But it wasn't until that point, more than eight years into our marriage, that I realized I had finally completely given myself over to him, handing him a piece of me that I didn't even know I had been keeping to myself – that part of me that had hardened in defense of being fully vulnerable. Our marriage was already solid, but I felt it strengthen even more and I felt my love for him grow once again. It is a truly powerful love, one which can break through the steely subconscious restraints of a childhood damage.
There are an endless number of reasons why I love Frank, but this is probably the top reason: that in my need for control, I can make the decision not to have control, and I love and trust him so much that I know my family and I will be fine. Our children will never have to lose trust in their father's ability to care for his family the way I did. I am lucky and so blessed that unknowingly, Frank was able fill a hole that I did not know was there until after he filled it.
It is our 12th year anniversary, and instead of a Post-it note and an empty house there are snoring children down the hall, a wife spoiled rotten by a man who sounds a bit like Scooby-Doo when he laughs, and a homemade cream-cheese pound cake in the oven. He asked for the Bundt pan this time (I knew that one).
Love you, babe, and not just because you bake good cakes.
Submitted for Mel's Show and Tell ~ who else is in the classroom this week?