I first remember getting in trouble with him at our baby sitter’s house when we were five. One of the other kids had been drawing pictures of butts, and since the entire group of kids of course giggled about it, we were all punished for the crime.
I knew I liked him in first grade but by fifth the feeling was mutual. We wrote letters back and forth, shared a few long, mostly silent phone calls, and avoided one another at school. When my best friend asked if I wanted to wear his jacket – which I think was a pretty sweet faux leather Jordan number – I asked, “Why? I already have a coat.” He moved on in the sixth grade, but I never really did.
We spent the next four years as friends, until he asked me to Winter Ball our sophomore year of high school. That was almost 18 years ago, and we’ve been inseparable since.
All that history considered, I’m a bit of an expert on my husband, Matt. Since today is his birthday, I thought I’d wax poetic for a moment.
Matt is witty and clever and fun. He likes to quietly observe but is adept at adding the well-timed smart comment. He has the best laugh and uses it often on reruns of The Office or his oldest daughter’s sassy remarks that sound much like his own.
During one of the hardest times we’ve endured together, we made 8-hour round-trips to a specialist several days per week while we both held full-time jobs and other responsibilities. It was exhausting and often hope-crushing, but that’s not really what I remember about that time. I remember Matt making me laugh until I cried, and then he would do the same. I remember him singing loudly to country songs, rapping horribly and belting out power ballads in his little pickup on the road trips. I remember that after we received bad news, we would drive to the all-you-can-eat Italian place and drown our sorrows in pounds of pasta and three lava cakes each.
We were on our first anniversary trip when he took a call from his former coach, who asked him to join the coaching staff at his alma mater. He did so, and officially launched a career in which he’s impacted numerous lives for the better. I can’t tell you how often I’m stopped by former students and asked to pass along news to him. I was in the post office last week when a friend told me he had heard through the grapevine how much the kids love Matt at his current school. A note received from a student on how he inspired her in her future career path brought me to tears (and I’m not a crier, except a laugh crier or an anger crier, thank you very much). He may be your stereotypical teacher/coach in a small, rural school, but that’s where the typecasting stops. He takes his job seriously and is excellent at what he does.
Each year, I live for the holiday season, and a huge part is because Matt will be home and he will take over cooking. He can re-create any fantastic meal we’ve ever had, his homemade noodles and fish dishes being among my favorite. He even built his own homemade grill and smoker over the summer. We are a perfect team in the kitchen: he cooks, I bake. No one wants the dishes.
Every night he doesn’t have a game, he plays with the kids after dinner, administers medicines, fetches snacks, helps them bathe and dress, brushes teeth, and reads stories to them before they fall asleep. Then he does whatever needs done in the house, preps for work, and hangs out with me. Sometimes I wonder what I’m even doing around here, because I certainly don’t have the laundry caught up.
Following the birth of our firstborn, I was in bad shape and taken into surgery. Matt scooped up our daughter, not certain I would be returning, and forged a bond with her. He gives equal attention to our two youngest as well, and makes it a point to plan special outings with the kids. He is patient and kind, unless you wake him at 4 in the morning. Just don’t do that.
His obsession with the Patriots is perhaps over-the-top (I mean, when our oldest came down with the flu this year on game day and we couldn’t go anywhere, I know he felt bad for her, but he wasn’t disappointed otherwise). He has followed Tom Brady’s career since he was a quarterback at Michigan. This kind of loyalty to what he loves is evident in every facet of his life.
Matt is athletic and also so competitive, and not just in sports. We keep records of who wins Ticket to Ride in the game box, and he likes to brag about his overall record.
In short, he’s the best guy, and I’m lucky I realized it 30 years ago and that he’s agreed to do life with me for the past 14. Happy birthday, husband. I’ll cue up the Frasier episode and have chocolate cake for you when you get home from your game.