I’ve been with my wife Barb almost ten years now. She has greatly improved my life, giving me more to live for and even an occasional moment of joy. I know from observation that she also improves the lives of many others by her combination of willing sacrifice, humorous neuroses, friendly acceptance, and general wackiness. I thought it would be rewarding to list some of the reasons I consider myself lucky to have her, so here they are, in no particular order.
00. Barb manages to put up with me. Not only that … she even claims to be happy with me. If you know me at all well, you know that’s a tall order.
01. Barb spends her days volunteering at our children’s schools, where she takes much of the tedious work off the teachers’ hands so they can focus on the kids and have a life after class. She is also a regular provider of sweets and other goodies that the children love.
02. Barb plays Pick 3 and Pick 4 One Dollar lottery games and goes to the Virginia Lottery web site twice a day, covers the screen with her hand, and slowly moves her fingers to reveal the numbers one by one. If she wins, she does a little dance. If she loses, she swears off gambling (which lasts about a day). Much as I hate gambling, I can’t fault her too much for this, her one real decadence.
03. Barb doesn’t overthink things, except of course stuff about the children. She relaxes the way normal people do, by watching TV or playing games. She thus acts as a counterbalance to my incessant activity.
04. Barb calls our oldest cat Buster “Meow Meow Scoobington Scoobington Meow Meow” and gives him treats (often at his insistence) 8 times a day. He may die a little sooner but he’ll die happy …
05. Barb doesn’t hold onto anger from our rare arguments and can’t go to sleep with me angry at her. She’ll either torture me (talk and tickling) late at night to get me to laugh and let go of my anger or she’ll sit in bed alone and suffer a night of little sleep.
06. Barb isn’t really a cat fan but has helped take care of my growing number of cats adopted from the wild without too much complaint. She recently went to PetSmart, saw some kittens there at a rescue adoption event, and ended up bringing two of them home. The kitten are of course a handful, for us and the older cats. Barb claims to regret her decision to adopt, but we all know better.
07. Barb goes out of her way to make sure the children have treats on special days and also gets me way too many delicious treats from our local Wegmans.
08. If I just mention wanting something, Barb will consider it a duty to run around and find it so it’s waiting for me when I get home from work.
09. Barb goes to all the social events a family is expected to attend, makes lots of great vegetarian food for the event and takes the children, but understands that I would rather stay at home and do useful activities, so she rarely insists on me attending.
10. Barb is not at all a technical person, but listens intently to my descriptions of technical activities. I have to admit I have a hard time being as patient in listening to her talk about her own activities and interests.
11. Barb really appreciates my attempts to teach the children advanced concepts in math, science, philosophy, literature, etc. She had a pretty poor upbringing and education and suffers some from the lack of opportunity that’s resulted, and she wants much better for our own children.
12. Barb tells me when she needs more affection or other attention. She doesn’t hint around or otherwise try to opaquely let me know her needs. This helps me a lot since I don’t deal well with poorly defined relationship requirements.
13. Barb actually cares more about her family than anything else. Unlike many families in our area, we are able to live (somewhat frugally) off my salary alone, and Barb is devoted entirely to our family. In contrast to many modern women, she holds nothing back for herself. The welfare of her family is her primary goal, so she harbors no resentment at not being able to have a “career” while raising children.
14. Barb has been a “grandmother in training” since I first met her. When we used to have lots of children living nearby, many would congregate in our yard to play games, knowing we were kid friendly neighbors and that there would be regular refreshments and treats (and comfort and band-aids when necessary) from Mrs. Barbara.
15. When adults come to visit, Barb offers them food and then pushes them to take more food with them when they go. She seems to have a particularly ardent expression of the Italian Grandmother gene.
To be continued …