The number 17 has a ton of significance in my relationship with my husband.
We mark several great moments on the 17th of various months. February is no different.
On February 17th, ten years ago, my husband asked me to marry him.
What a long and winding road that had been...
I will say he did a great job sitting through a dinner out where the other couple we were with chided him for not having proposed on Valentine's Day. How, if we were going to get this being married show on the road, we needed to have the ring sooner rather than later.
All the while, my husband sat stoicly, saying he wouldn't be rushed, while the ring box burned a hole in his pocket.
We went back to my place after that evening out and he said, "Hey. I was wondering if you'd wear something for me."
Knowing my husband they way I do, let me just say that a diamond solitaire engagment ring with square channel set diamonds in the band was not what I thought he had in mind. I thought, "Why did I eat so much pasta at dinner...I should have known he'd have something planned for Valentine's weekend."
It was a very exciting time. One that I'm sure we both thought would have come a decade earlier. I'm convinced if it had, though, neither of us would have appreciated the other at the level necessary and we wouldn't have been mature enough to make a marriage work.
After dating for nearly three years, my husband had a ring picked out when I turned 21. I had other plans. We broke up and even ended up marrying other people. I had M1 and when she turned 3, my husband decided he didn't really care to be married to me anymore. It was a confusing and confounding time in my life. I was nearing 30 and had not worked full-time since M1 had come. In a matter of months, I took on a full-time job, found care for M1 and tried to figure out how I could keep our house because I couldn't imagine moving a toddler and my dog into an apartment--how would I take Oscar out? How would M1 sleep if we had noisy neighbors? It was a scary time.
My husband had been delivering packages to our house occasionally when our UPS shipments were on his truck. And, once my first husband had left, it didn't take long for me to realize that my spouse was not the only one who had walked.
One of M1's first weekends with her dad, I had a UPS delivery. The general inquiry was where was my little blonde sidekick? I explained she was away and the house was very quiet. Brian told me if the house became too quiet, I could give him a call. I told him that he knew better -- I don't call boys; boys call me. [A very old rule my mother had, but it proved useful]. And, sure enough, he did call. He invited me to have pizza and watch a movie and the rest is history.
Sappy, Lifetime movie history.
The months leading to our engagement were full of reminders of why I love my husband so much. Not the least of which was when M1 hit a growth spurt in a matter of a week--nothing fit! Her belly was hanging out, her ankles were showing. I was in between paychecks, but was determined to find her some suitable things for daycare. We went to Target one night and I scoured the clearance rounders. I picked up some mix and match wear and made some mental notes about what I would come back for once I had been paid again. Brian kept picking up cute things that M1 would look so adorable in and I grew uncomfortable. I didn't want to have to tell him I couldn't afford those things at the moment, but soon the cart began to fill with things I couldn't pay for that night.
I couldn't even look at him when I said, "Hey. All this stuff you have picked is great, but...I'm kind of short because I had to pay the mortgage with this past check. So. I have to be a little choosy today."
He just looked at me and said, "Well. What in that cart doesn't she actually need? Can you show me what she doesn't need to get her through the week at school?"
He said something like, "Well then. That's why I picked out what I did. I get paid every week. It's just me. If she needs these things, then she needs them. And, because she needs them, you need to find a way to get them for her. What you need is a concern of mine and I'm going to be your way, this time, to provide these things. If things go the way I want them to, this will be a conversation that we won't need to have many more times."
He was right.
I literally melted. He took what was a really uncomfortable moment for me and turned it into something that I was able to tell M1 when she was older and swearing up and down that my husband didn't understand her and didn't really care about her like he did other people in the house. I had to break it down for her that he loved her and treated her like she was his responsibility long before that had been a reality.
We have some very lucky girls living in this house. I count myself among the luckiest.
Ten years together went so much faster than those ten years we were apart, that's for certain.
There is something to be said for finding your other half.