his post was supposed to be a parable about what an amazing husband and father I am. My husband-of-the-year award was in the bag. My name was going to be written in lights and I was going to enjoy true superhero status around the house for months to come. If you only scroll down and look at the pictures you might think that was what happened. The reality though was far different (and far more realistic). What was supposed to be a parable of epic proportions became a tale of ultimate failure, highlighting my complete ineptitude, rather than super powers. Eventually though, like all good operas, tragedy leads to redemption, and at the end of the day good triumphs over evil.
This is my story:
It is not unheard of, in some circles, for a woman to get a “baby band” after the birth of a child – a little bauble to commemorate a rare, wonderful occasion. The idea is that you wear the band next to your engagement and wedding rings to mark another milestone in the timeline of your life (which could get rather complicated for Octomom, Kate Goslin or Mrs. Duggar). It’s a nice sentiment but my wife and I are a little more practical than that. We generally aren’t “bauble” people. There’s always something more practical to spend that sort of money on. That never stopped us from window shopping though. This last go around looks like it will be our last, so a month or two before Episode VI was born when UnDorkMommy was looking at settings online, I paid particular attention.
The first thing I noticed was that the settings she was looking at bared no resemblance to either the engagement ring, or the wedding band she was already wearing which together look like a matched set. She assured me that that didn’t matter. When you wear a baby band it doesn’t have to match. I raised my eyebrows. “Huh. I would never have known. Learn something new every day”.
It should be noted that although we are practical people, that doesn’t mean my wife doesn’t appreciate the finer things in life in every department except the husband department. When I saw the $$ of the settings she was looking at online I nearly choked. She laughed. “Don’t worry. I’m just window shopping. It’s harmless fun”.
“Tell you what” I returned. “Why don’t you Email me some pictures of something in a more realistic range just in case Santa gets any funny ideas he can have a clue what sort of look you like”. The next day three links appeared in my in-box from a well-known (though not top-tier) local chain jeweler. Although the $$ on the links were still choke-worthy, they wouldn’t require a full-on EMS response to recover from.
Fast forward a couple months. Baby’s born. Dust is settled. Mother’s Day is on the horizon. Our 10th wedding anniversary is fast-approaching. We had a good month at the office. I figure what the heck. Episode VI is probably going to be our last kid. Once every 10 years or every 3 kids is OK. She more than deserves something sparkly. Just as important, I’ve got a little man I’m raising (well, two now) who needs to learn how important it is to do something wonderful for the wonderful women in his life. So I packed up Episode V and hauled him off for some father/son bonding to get Mommy something sparkly.
We arrived at the well-known (though not top-tier) local chain jeweler and I impressed upon Episode V how important it was to act like a big-boy in this store (jewelry stores tend to be pretty uptight places), and how we were going in there to pick out something very, very special for Mommy. It’s important that a kid feels like it’s coming from him too, so outside the door I kneeled down and told him eye to eye with utmost solemnity that I was going to need his help picking it out. He nodded, appreciating the gravity of the role he was going to play, and hand-in-hand we walked into the store – two buddies in matching Captain America T-shirts on a mission to get Mommy something special.
I pulled up the Emails on my smartphone and the salesperson was able to find the exact 3 settings UnDorkMommy had sent to me months earlier. “OK now. Which one do you think Mommy will like best?” Episode V didn’t waste any time. He pointed immediately to his favorite.
“That one. It’s really sparkly” he said. (It’s also worth noting that it was the most expensive of the three – clearly my wife’s DNA at work in the kid)
“The boss has spoken” I told the salesperson. “Wrap it up. We’ll take it”. And off we went, back home with huge smiles on our faces, proud of what we’d done for Mommy and eagerly anticipating the joyful look on her eye when she opened the little box and saw the sparkly there waiting for her.
Now is a good time to point out that on the secret-keeping front, typically Episode IV is the squealer. So I thought there was as good a chance as any that I could trust Episode V with this secret. I imparted upon him how important it was to keep this secret until Mother’s Day. He assured me with the most serious look on his face that he understood. 15 seconds after we got home and walked in the house “Mommy! Mommy! We got you a ring and it’s REALLY sparkly!”
“Dude, that’s supposed to be a secret!” I told him.
“Oh yeah. Sorry.” He said, and ran off to play legos.
My wife laughed. I laughed. That’s life with little kids. I waved my hand mystically in front of her face, “You are forgetting everything you’ve just heard. You have no idea where your husband and son have been for the past few hours. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. You can go about your business”. The Force can have a strong influence over the weak minded – over my wife, zilch.
So Mother’s Day arrives. Up to then it’s all I can do to keep from giving her the gift early. Presents are like that for me. I get so excited around Xmas and such I can barely hold it in. My son on the other hand, he has the memory of a goldfish. So early Mother’s Day morning when I whispered in his ear to go get Mommy’s present that we bought for her he said “Oh yeah. I forgot” and ran off to the other room to get it from its hiding place.
As he ran into the room with the gift in his hand I could just see in my mind the scene unfolding. She was going to open the little box, see the sparkly, her eyes were going to fill with tears, she was going to throw her arms around my neck, kiss me on the cheek, tell me how perfect it was and how much she loved me. There was going to be a ticker-tape parade in my honor. The Mayor was going to give me the key to the city, and the local university was going to put my name on a new campus dedicated to the greater comic book arts. I could hardly see straight I was so excited.
Boy I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
It wasn’t like she outright rejected it, throwing it back in my face shouting “This is unacceptable!” To her credit she tried REALLY hard to pretend that it was “exactly what she wanted”. But my wife is a *terrible* liar – absolutely miserable. From the moment she saw the bag it came in I knew that my plan had gone dreadfully, dreadfully wrong. You see, as I said my wife is a woman of refined taste (in every category except for husbands). When she saw the bag/box she recognized it immediately as a store that didn’t carry “exactly
what she wanted”. She didn’t even have to open the box. She knew. The Box’s color was enough to give away my total failure.
You see, the key component to the equation that I was missing was that although the setting of a “baby band” doesn’t have to match the wedding band and engagement ring, apparently the metal itself does. Again, who knew it wasn’t fashionably acceptable to put yellow gold next to white, or white gold next to platinum, or copper next to nickel… well, apparently every refined woman out there. But not this Dork Daddy. The links she had sent me were to give me an idea of what arrangements she liked. But if I’d bothered to ask, she would have pointed out that the links were of a different metal than her wedding and engagement rings. I wasn’t supposed to get one of those *exact* rings. If I’d bothered to ask she would have told me as much.
She appreciated the sentiment. She appreciated the effort. She tried to make it better by saying “Well, maybe I can wear it on the other hand”. But that wasn’t the point. I wanted it to be “exactly what she wanted”. Although she never expects gifts like this, she knew from my son’s give-away that she was getting a “baby band”, and it’s only human to have certain expectations. Disappointment was thick in the air. I was crestfallen. She was pretending not to be, trying to make the best out of my ineptitude.
So we/I moped around the house for the next 40 minutes while we all got ready to head out to Mother’s Day brunch. As I got dressed I remembered something the salesperson at the well-known (though not top-tier) local chain jeweler said to me as she was running my credit card. At the time I dismissed it, but now it came flooding back in all relevance. There was a 60-day, money-back, no questions asked policy. I ran out to my car to check the paperwork and confirmed it. Yee Haw!
Then I remembered that just a couple blocks away from where we’d planned on having Mother’s Day brunch was a jewelry store with the *RIGHT* colored boxes (very well known, totally top-tier). I explained to UnDorkMommy my plan to make things right and she brushed it off, “I don’t need a ring. We don’t need to spend that sort of money on jewelry. The house needs new windows”. But I wouldn’t have it. So after brunch we all walked down to the right jewelry store and looked at two or three settings that appealed to her.
Again, to her credit my wife tried to pretend that the cheapest ring was the one she liked the best, but she couldn’t hide the twinkle in her eye when she put on the expensive one. That was the twinkle I was hoping for when she opened the original, wrong-colored box. Although she protested mightily, to my thinking it wasn’t worth doing if it wasn’t “exactly what she wanted”. This was what she wanted. After three kids and ten years of marriage she deserved it and so much more. She means so much to me. Nothing else would do. This was the one. I bought it for her.
And there was that smile. There were the arms around my neck. There was the kiss on my cheek. It is the rarest of occasions when a mother of 3 gets put ahead of everyone else in the house. But this was Mother’s Day. It was far overdue. Yay! Mother’s Day was saved.
The only downside: now I’ve got two sparklies sitting on my credit card. I’ve gotta get that taken care of ASAP.
To my sons:
Boys, if you love the women in your life as much as I love your mom, and you want to make them feel as wonderful as they deserve to feel, you’re going to fail from time to time. Make your peace with it. It’s going to happen, often in spectacular fashion. Blame my DNA. Blame your Y chromosomes. Whatever gets you through the day. But when you do fail in life, what’s important is how you recover. It’s OK to fail. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and go make it right.
…and sometimes that means getting something for your wife that comes in the right-colored box.