Friday, February 20, 2015

Presents vs. Presence

Today's the day.

It's Farmer (Teacher) Joe's 40th birthday.

We've already read the cards, unwrapped the gift, had the cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Is it ironic that I got Joe a FitBit Charge, but made him cinnamon rolls for breakfast? Diet picks up again tomorrow!

Anyway, I could list forty things that I love about him, but then I'd just be another blogger who writes in list form. I prefer narratives. Call me crazy.

Ten years ago, as Joe embarked on his 30th decade, we were a young couple, married just shy of two years, ready to embark upon parenthood (read: I was ready to pop with Anna). We had a nice, quiet dinner. I can't remember if I got him a present.

Probably because I was pregnant. Without any other children.

You know, really busy.

Anyway, Joe is not a present guy. Don't get me wrong, he appreciates nice gifts, thoughtful gifts, practical gifts, but really he's not jazzed by things.

This is not my way.

I know this may come as a shock to you, but I LOVE PRESENTS. Big ones, little ones, sparkly ones, thoughtful ones, frivolous ones.

All presents. All the time.

So when Joe's birthday comes around, I find myself in a conundrum. Do I get him something that's practical like underwear or socks, or something fun and flashy, because he'd never buy it for himself? There were times this Christmas that he proclaimed the flooring or the doors or the door knobs for our basement would be just fine for his gift.

I never uttered such a proclamation, and enjoyed my Chanel perfume and bracelet like the good little consumer that I am.

This is why Joe and I work well together. While I love all the flash, he's more concerned about presence than presents.

I know, I married a good guy.

This is something I have had to learn to appreciate. When you're young and starting out, it's fun to shower each other with flashy, fun things. You have time to shop. You have time to have a quiet dinner together. You're spending your energy on each other, because when you're young and in love, that's what you do.

Twelve years together and six kids later, it still is nice to wrap up something shiny. That's actually easier to let Amazon do the talking for me through a gift. It's easy to buy a gift. It's easy to give a thing. It is satisfying to give something to someone.

However, at this stage in our life, we need to be present with each other. The quiet dinners can happen, by moving heaven and earth, hiring a babysitter, and praying it doesn't snow. In this stage of our lives, it takes more time and thought and effort to be present, not give a present. So, we've been talking about Daddy's birthday for weeks, planning how we will best be present for him. I'm working on my girls to appreciate presence, like their dad. I do have to admit, Amelia was horrified Joe only had one present to open today. She's her mama's girl.

So today, it's all about presence.

While he was able to unwrap a gift, we're working hard to be together. Since taking his new position, Joe is gone all day. Even though it's February, Jack and I are still getting used to this. As long as we've been parents, Joe has been flexible in his employment. We have had lunch together, shared preschool pick up together, given each other a break at 2:00 if necessary. I realize that there are many things I don't miss about Joe farming full time, but the in and out and pop-in visits during the day is the one thing I miss the most. Jack especially misses his daddy. So today, we're celebrating with our presence: Jimmy Johns at the "big school," and some time together as a family tonight.

Happy birthday, Farmer (Teacher) Joe! Here's to many, many more happy years ahead, and to being present with each other.

And presents...don't forget presents once in a while (especially April 15th).

(and August 2nd)

(and Christmas)

(and Valentine's Day)

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