Friday, January 8, 2010

Accepting I'm Not His First True Love

This morning it was below zero outside when the alarm went off. We purposefully set it every night so that we can hit the snooze at least once before we have to rouse the troops to get them off to school. As usual, my husband cuddled up closer to me and tightened the covers around us making it even harder to get out of bed. We quickly had company, as our youngest crawled up my side and then on top of the covers and me. I love that time in the morning. Whether it is just he and I, or all five of us, I love when we don't have to be anywhere and we can just be together for a little bit cuddled in the covers of our bed. I knew this morning wasn't one of those times, but my husband joked, "Let's just stay in bed today."

"Ok, and then we can sell off parts of the bed when I am no longer being paid for my job," I reminded him.

"I know, but it's just so cold outside."

We procrastinated for a few minutes, and then with much more energy, my husband threw off the covers and said, "Yeah, you better get going, I have to leave at 3:30, so you need to get to work so you can get home."

I chuckled to myself about the change in attitude because I knew that the new energy happened when my husband realized that he was going to be able to spend some time with his true love.

It is a love affair that I do not yet understand, and I probably never will...completely. He is hardly as passionate about much else in his life as he is about his love. He will wake up at ungodly hours and stay up way too late just to get his fix. He times his haircuts and shaving around it, and it is the only time (aside from weddings and funerals) that you will find him in a suit and tie. He will gladly track down a sitter so he can go do it and if we really sat down to think about it, all of the decisions we have made about the jobs we keep and the places we live are dependent upon his love.

I told him that this morning...that I felt like the "other woman." He acted appalled for a second, and then said, "No, what does that mean?"

"Oh, you know...that seductive tigress. She has so much more than I'll ever be able to give you."

"WHAT are you talking about?" He looked at me really confused now.

"Don't try to pretend that hockee (mockingly and ineffectually pronounced with a french accent) doesn't hold the real keys to your heart." He smiled now, relieved that he hadn't forgotten about a mistress or something.

"Oh, hockey is the other woman, huh? I don't think so."

He's right, she's not really the other woman, but she is his other love. He has loved and identified with hockey for twenty years longer than he has known me. It is an enormous part of who he is, and it's not that I am finally coming to terms with that, but rather I am acknowledging the importance of helping him to foster that relationship.

We spend our winters in Minnesota, complaining about bitter temps and questioning daily it seems our decision to live here. We don't have to be here, but we choose to. Among other reasons, Minnesota is where his love was born, and he is thrilled to be able to share it with his kids.

There were indications that I would probably never be his greatest love. The first year he and I dated, I was hard-pressed to see much enthusiasm from him at all. I know now he was reeling from hockey-playing circumstances that were rocking his world, but at any rate, he was hardly happy about much. When I came to Minnesota with him for the first time, he introduced me to a side of him that I hadn't yet seen.

One of the mornings we were staying at his mom's house, my husband shook me out of bed and dragged me upstairs because I just had to see this. You have to realize that I expected that he and I were going to be married some day, and I was on the lookout for signs that an engagement was pending. I thought he had sprung a romantic leak, and I ran upstairs with him, anticipating a surprise kneeling. He ushered me over to the window and worked to wipe away condensation that inevitably builds when it is cold enough outside. My expectation shifted from ring... to car (because I needed one of those too) and I peered out to see a large city truck spraying water on the snow. My immediate thought was, "what is that idiot doing?" and before I could utter any syllable of confusion my husband yelled (bounding mind you) "They're flooding the rink...they're flooding the rink!!!" After a few years living our winters here in Minnesota, I can see that passion starting to form in each of our children now too. Their eyes light up the same way his did when the rink is being flooded for the first time.

They can do something that I will never be able to do. They can skate and they can play hockey, and my husband can be around a game that formed him and that he loves with literally every fiber of his being. I just know a little piece of him would die, if I ever asked him to give it up, and because I love him, I never will. He deserves a chance to be near what he loves, and to be honest, it gives him the energy to better love the people and life around him, and that includes me. I'm starting to love the other woman, for helping to form the man that loves me too.