Here’s to good men (or one in particular)

Prompt: December 14 – Appreciate.What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

Immediately, without a smidgeon of hesitation, what leapt to mind was “Mathieu” (that’s mon mari, my man of 7 years, ). More specifically, I should add, what I’ve come to appreciate most is his support and commitment to his family: me and le Petit.

This past year, there were some big, personal, me-decisions:

For the sake of exploration and knocking on the door of future possibility, I decided to sign up for a media studies course at the local university.

What that meant was late Monday and Wednesday nights and then when crunch time came at the end of semester, I was gone to the library for almost 2 weeks straight in the evenings, sometimes after I put le Petit to bed (you can get a lot done between 9pm and midnight if you are prepared to be tired the next day…..which I was NOT, but that is another story), sometimes right after work.

The thing that got me the most? Piping hot home-made dinner on the table on some nights when he was home, the minute I walked in the door after class. M always says he won my heart through my stomach.

While M and I had talked about more schooling for one or both of us for a long time, this year was the first time since we met each other that I took a course (has has taken most of a professional certificate by now). But we also knew that at some point, I wanted to pursue a master’s degree. It turned out that the “some point” came this year. I decided to apply to a master’s program.

What that means is that if I get accepted, and if I receive some funding, it will have serious financial, location, and work implications for us. We might end up moving, or getting into debt again. M is cheering for me all the way, but I know he has some concerns about what the unknown may hold for us.

I started volunteering Sunday afternoons at local Korean community church.

My parents, after moving to our small city, started to attend the local Korean community church after a year of living here. I showed up for their service once in a while, mostly because I was dropping off or picking up my parents. After I visited a few times, the leaders asked me if I could hang out on a more permanent basis and help with their pre-teens and teens because they just really neeeeeded someone bilingual who could relate to them. (Hey, if they were willing to accept me with my questions of faith and belief, then I think they are a pretty cool church.)

What it meant for our family life was that Sunday afternoons were going to be spent at the Korean church and not with mon mari. Though sometimes it was not too bad, only 2-3 hours, there were regular longer events, some days till 7 or 9 pm at night on Sunday, or Friday, or a weekend away with the youth, where I wasn’t spending time with M, and sometimes not with le Petit either. Sometimes the youth kids invaded our home, ate all our popcorn and made lots of noise in our house.

Because of M’s shifting work schedule and my regular weekday hours, we don’t always have evenings together during the week, or even on Saturdays sometimes if M is scheduled to work sometime on the weekend. Thus, time together between the three of us is pretty precious. Sundays was supposed to be a day of sabbath, downtime and family time for us – we decided this very early on when we were first getting serious about each other- but my choice has impacted our Sunday time together.

My sister moved from Hawaii with her 2 year old daughter, into our house. Well, I should clarify, my parents’ house, but they live in the downstairs part of our 2 suite house. So while it is a separate, wholly contained living space, we’ve chosen to knock out the dividing doors which makes the distinction between “our” and “their” place blurred at all hours of the day.

While it’s pretty common in Korean culture for extended families to live together, it certainly isn’t in M’s culture, and while it was naturally “yes” for me when I heard my sister’s request, I knew it would be harder for M, for whom it’s sister by marriage, not as close. Also, I know he’s a man who would like space – mental as well as physical – of our own, for all the love and respect he has for his in-laws.

Since M was home in many of the afternoons and evenings while I was in school, when my sister and my parents were working, he was the one who then had to take care of not only le Petit, but our niece who has 10 times the energy and more will than our son, as well. It was not easy for him, and I know that at times he was worn out from having the two of them, adjudicating the toddler matches, having to feed not one but two little ones, straightening up the trail of scattered cushions and toys everywhere.

I call these “me” decisions because they have to do with something that involved my time, my sibling or my dreams. But M and I consulted together, deliberated, sussed out the pros and cons, in making these decisions.  More importantly, because we’ve both taken on the attitude that there should be more “our” and “you” than “me” in our marriage partnership, I feel like I got the balance of the good fortune, while M did a lot of the giving this past year.

During the past year, I appreciate that M did more of the house chores because I couldn’t keep up with all the things that needed to get done. He swiffered and swept countless times because I didn’t get to it, and never complained out it. We’re pretty equitable about house work, but I know I was not able to do my part in making our house a home for us and for M, this past half year.

What I especially especially appreciate, which makes my heart and something behind my tear ducts go all soft when I think about it, is how he’s been so gentle and patient with le Petit. I mean, not all dads are as instinctive as moms, when it comes to their toddler’s needs and preferences. But M is spot on with le Petit and takes genuine joy in spending time with him.

He would die of embarrassment if he knew I had written this all down, in PUBLIC, for pete’s sake, about him, but I want to SHOUT it to the world how much I appreciate his solid support for le Petit and me. I’ve noticed that after some years together, some couples lose softness for one another. People talk about the 7 year itch. We haven’t been married for 7, but we’ve been together for that long now. We’ve felt no itch, in fact, it’s just gotten better.  Thank you, M.