Wednesday, August 26, 2009

It's not about what's in the bottle

In some ways, I had it made when I lived in Scotland. My birthday is in May. Usually about a week before Mother's Day here in the USA. In Scotland Mother's day was in March, which gave Rene plenty time to build up his pampering energy in between the two.

Now it just gets a bit too overwhelming for him. Two special occasions all bundled up. And he's kind of a one trick pony when it comes to this sort of thing. Thoughtful (not expensive, by any means, but thoughtful) gifts is one of my love languages. But not one of Rene's. He tends to buy a bunch of cards and a couple cheap gifts and dump them all at me in bed before I get up in the morning. Then that's it for the day.

I tend to go all out. Streamers, treasure hunts, poems, surprise hidden notes, gifts ordered from other countries months in advance, special meals etc. It's all about making a big fuss and making the person feel special. It is my love language.

Last May, I tried not to show my disappointment. In his typical style, he woke me up and dropped some kids, some cards and a couple gifts at me. I smiled and thanked them and opened my gifts. I got some junk food (a bag of dove chocolate and some salt and vinegar potato chips) which we're trying to avoid eating, and a bottle of some sort of shower gel which I assumed to be from the dollar store. I don't use shower gel. I prefer bars of soap and preferably all natural, when we can afford it. This stuff looked like it was stuffed full of chemicals and perfumes, would dry my skin out and burn my eyes and make my breastmilk extra toxic.

It felt to me like Rene either didn't know me, or didn't support me, or didn't care. Maybe he just has no idea that I like to avoid chemicals. Maybe he doesn't even know I'm crunchy granola. Maybe he never paid attention. Or maybe he'd trying to send a hint that he wants me to be more mainstream, like the rest of them. Or maybe he didn't even give a thought as to what I'd like, maybe he just thought, "that looks like girl stuff. My wife is a girl. Score. Birthday present sorted".

Either way it was kind of hurtful. I guess I wanted to feel special, like I try to make others feel. But maybe I'm just not special enough.

Fast forward a few months to August. Lana wants a bath and asks if we have any bubbles. I tell her no, we don't. Rene corrects me. He looks down at his feet and tries to act like he's cool, like his heart is not at all on his sleeve and his feeling are not at all hurt. He's simply stating the facts. But can't look me in the eye, and he sounds dejected. "Well, we have that stuff I got for your birthday or mother's day or whatever. The chamomile and lavender stuff. I don't think any of it has been used, so there's plenty left".

At first I had no idea what stuff he was talking about. Chamomile and Lavender bubbles? Oh, he must mean the crappy shower gel.

I think I thoughtlessly blurted out something about the stuff not being good, or filled with chemicals. He found it a little harder to hide his hurt while he defended it, "It's Johnson and Johnson".

I went to the bathroom and looked at it. True enough it was Johnson and Johnson, lavender and chamomile, chemical filled shower gel. I decided to get in his head space and figure out what he was thinking. In Scotland, Johnson and Johnson is THE preferred brand for babies. It's portrayed as soft, gentle, natural, preferred by midwives etc. The tv commercials have tons of squashy, squeaky baby bums and he knows how much I love baby bums. And it says chamomile and lavender, and he knows I love herbs and aromatherapy.

It's not that he doesn't know who I am or that he disapproves, or that he doesn't care! He knows I'm crunchy granola, and he supported me by thinking hard and buying exactly what he thought would fit. So he doesn't know how to tell a "good" product from a "bad" one - I can so live with that. I feel bad that he put so much thought into that gift, and instead of focusing on what was going on inside his head and heart, I made him feel rejected just because of what was inside the bottle.

9 years ago today, two babies who truly believed they were grown ups, said vows to love and cherish each other forever.

Both of us babies have grown and learned so much in these first (of many) 9 years. We have been through some pretty trying times and have had some years where staying married was very hard. But this baby is so glad we've fought through, and clung to God like we promised we would. I'm sure we have some more hard times to come, but I believe we'll get through whatever comes our way, and use it towards our growth.
I pray I'll learn how to get inside Rene's head space more. To be more selfless. To see the bigger picture and to see the pure intentions. I'm really glad it's not about what's in the bottle. Because the stuff in his head and heart is so beautiful. And I'm blessed. I've just got to open my eyes and see it.


DJ said...

A nice point hilariously made, you could have been writing about me and Rupert! You're right - just because the gift is a six pack of car stickers from ebay including the legend 'Village Idiot', doesn't mean a whole lot of thought and man-logic hasn't gone into it!

Herb of Grace said...

Ah yes, man-logic :) Gotta love it!

Tears in my eyes again, m'dear. Lovely, lovely post.

Betsy said...

Your anniversary is just two days after ours. Love the wedding photo!

2Shaye ♪♫ said...

Awwww, Niecey. Again, your raw honesty finds a direct path to the heart. I love this and often find myself in the same situations.

By the way, August is a wonderful month for anniversaries. Ours was just a couple weeks ago. Boy does the time fly (and sometimes I still feel like the baby).



Blessedw5mom said...

Happy Anniversary! Beautiful post, truly beautiful!

lady mommy said...

This was truly wonderful Niecey. Thank you for emphasizing what's really important so I can keep my focus on the right things. Happy Anniversary and God bless your marriage and family!

Kinsleys4 said...

Aww - Happy Anniversary you guys!

Di said...

So candidly shared! Poignant and true. Always a good thing to see something like this from a different perspective. How many marriages could be saved if more people did exactly that???!! Happy Anniversary! *hugs*

septembermom said...

A very beautiful post! I love the wedding photo. I often have to "open my eyes" to see the beauty within my husband too. Marriage is work, but it's worth it.

Tracy said...

I just love this post, Niecey. :-)