This week has been a celebration of Toby. Every year I face the challenge of making 3 special days happen for my husband…all in one week. We begin by celebrating Father’s Day. A few days later we celebrate our anniversary and then 2 days after that it is his birthday. It is a week of celebrating his life…him as a father, him as a husband, and him as a man. I must admit that sometimes I feel overwhelmed as I try to pull off 3 special celebrations in a matter of days. My creativity is tested as I attempt to make him feel as special as he is. The pressure comes as a result of being married to a “grand gesture” man. Toby is the king of big surprises and grand declarations of love. From our very first date when he unwrapped an entire bag of Hershey kisses and rewrapped them with printed tags that said, “goodnight kiss” for our first “kiss” I knew I was married to a “grand gesture” man. Toby loves surprising people with their dream gift or showing his love in creative displays. My married life has been filled with treasure hunts, surprise vacations, homemade treasures and unexpected displays of his love. His love for others is contagious and you can’t help but want to jump into the fun of surprising them.
The down side of being married to a “grand gesture” man is that the gifts and surprises you plan always feel a bit lame and boring compared to having a puppy brought home with a bow tied around its neck or a trunk full of balloons released to announce an upcoming trip to Disney World. I mean, really, how does one compete with that? 🙂 This year, after 17 years of being on the receiving end of Toby’s surprises, I was determined to be the “surpriser.” It was our anniversary and I was going for the “grand gesture” surprise…
Before we began the journey of adoption we set the goal and made it a priority to go on regular date nights. We also tried to go on a short vacation every year without children. As a new mother I struggled with leaving my babies behind and struggled with “guilty mother syndrome” everytime Toby surprised me with a trip, but as hard as it was to get into the car and wave goodbye to the kiddos it was the best thing in the world for our marriage and our parenting. By going away for a few days we were able to reconnect as a couple, recharge our batteries so that we could come home better parents, as well as show our children that our marriage comes first and we were committed to that priority. As the kids grew older, leaving for the weekend became easier and we discovered the healing and rejuvenating power of a few days away. We were able to step out of the role of “parents” and step back into the role of “couple.” Toby made sure that vacationing alone together was a top priority and would regularly surprise me with trips away.
After beginning the adoption process our “weekends away” came to an abrupt end. Logistically it was tougher. With a foster child you can’t just ask grandma to babysit for the night. If a foster child sleeps at someone else’s home that babysitter must have a home inspection first (and we don’t have may people in our lives who would be willing to put themselves through that just to babysit our children) 🙂 and then they also have to have criminal and child abuse clearances. If we could pull all of that off we then face the fear of losing that babysitter as a friend as a result of a little boy’s epic tantrum while we are away. 😉 So needless to say we haven’t gone away in a while. It was because of all of these challenges that I decided to try to surprise Toby with a grand gesture getaway.
The idea came to me in the middle of the night…like all my good ideas do. I was going to surprise Toby with a night away at a hotel. I asked the daughter of a friend who has all her clearances from working at a day care if she could babysit from 6:00pm on Friday to noon on Saturday. By having her babysit at our home we didn’t need to put anyone through a home inspection. I spent the week “prepping” the house and kids in the hopes of a drama-free night. I booked a hotel five minutes away so we could be home in an instant if there were any meltdowns and the surprise was in the works. My only fear was that Toby was planning a surprise of his own and that it would be “clash of the titan surprises.”
On Friday afternoon I drove over to our hotel to check in, drop off our suitcase and decorate the room. Ozzie came with me, since he can’t be left alone, and he helped me decorate. Ozzie couldn’t contain his excitement and enthusiasm for the surprise. He kept saying, “This is the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard of!!” I had little candies to put next to the bed. Ozzie wanted to use them to decorate so he wrote “LOVE” in chocolates on the TV stand and then made a “heart” on the ottoman. As Ozzie stepped back to survey his work he spoke up with excitement, “You know what you should do for Daddy tonight?! You should call Delilah so that she can play a romantic song for you!” (Ozzie loves listening to Delilah’s radio program every night in bed.) As we left I made Ozzie promise not to reveal the secret to Daddy.
When we arrived home I got the kids ready for the night, went over rules, and got dressed for our date. When Toby arrived home I told him I had hired a sitter for our anniversary dinner ( which was a surprise in itself.) When the sitter arrived we said good-bye and headed to the restaurant. I gave him directions to where we were going and led him to the hotel…and he was surprised! I couldn’t believe I pulled off a “grand gesture” of love. It was a wonderful evening away. We had dinner at Toby’s favorite restaurant… We slept in until 10:30am…Ahhhh, it was wonderful!
As we spent the week celebrating Toby I counted my blessings to be married to such an amazing, good, loving, selfless man. I remember as a girl being counseled that no decision you make in you life had more impact on your future happiness than the decision of whom to marry. I chose well and have enjoyed 17 years of happiness and joy as a result. I am grateful for my husband who loves so selflessly, who parents so lovingly, who has opened his heart to two little boys who were sired and then destroyed by man who was called “dad” only to show them what a true “Dad” is.
Toby is a “grand gesture” man because his heart is too big and his love to expansive to be anything less.