Exceeds Expectations

(Originally posted April 13, 2010 on blogspot.)

There is a scene in Michael Cunningham’s “The Others” during which Laura Brown is preparing for her husband’s birthday. She wants it to be perfect. She wants to greet him with breakfast in the morning and have a beautiful table set for dinner and make an elaborate birthday cake. Instead, he brings her flowers while she sleeps in, and there are crumbs in the icing of her homemade cake. Embarrassed and feeling defeated, she throws the cake in the trash and starts over, while her young son looks on.

It’s one of the most powerful scenes I have ever read in fiction. In so many ways, I am Laura Brown.

Yesterday was Ryan’s birthday. Once upon a time (last week) I had plans to make him breakfast. But a video shoot for MRC Sunday evening put a stop to those plans- there was no time to prepare. Then I thought I’d make him Cincinnati chili for dinner. But I forgot the tomato paste, so I made one of our favorite salads instead. We barely had time to say hello during dinner- he was busy feeding Lily who was deciding how she felt about spinach, and I was shoving food into my mouth as fast as I could to get to a lesson in the city. (a lesson which I considered cancelling, but it provides all of our money for the week, so this was not an option) I did successfully make a delicious Martha Stewart strawberry ice cream cake, though. I tried to make it a surprise, but Ryan could smell that I had been baking. Crap. I always forget that other people can smell things. Ryan woke up enough to have a slice when I finally returned from the city. Then Lily started screaming. And screaming. And screaming. (sorry, neighbors)

And I asked him to take care of it.

I had wanted to accomplish so much yesterday, and I had such high hopes for the kind of birthday wife I could be. I was exhausted and defeated and feeling very much like Laura Brown.

Looking back, there is very little that went wrong yesterday. It just fell so short of what I wanted it to have been.

Which brings me to Easter.

I had visions of frilly dresses and beautifully dressed tables. Homemade side dishes and a ham I cooked all by myself. What we had instead was a little girl in a cute cotton dress that just happened to be clean. We didn’t have a table cloth. I made green bean casserole and scalloped potatoes from a box. And I did cook the ham all by myself, but it turns out there’s a reason people buy their hams precooked. They taste better. And I never even made my dessert.

But.

Lily found all of her eggs. How did she do it? I have no idea. Of course, I took all of her other toys away so that the eggs were the only interesting thing in the room. But still. She found all of her eggs.

And she played with her new purple bouncy ball- she can even sort of pass it. And she was amazed by the bubbles in her basket. And she absolutely loved the Elmo puppet book from Grandpa. In fact, it helped her understand the concept of books, and we now look at two or three a day together.

At church, Lily’s dress was a hit. (as were her shoes. Lily is known for her shoes.) And she found two other little girls who together nearly stopped the worship portion of the service as the three of them crawled to the center of the floor, sat in a circle, and shared their toys. And Ryan and I experienced a financial miracle which reminded us that God really is there for us. (this story available HERE)

So, given all that, our Easter far exceeded my expectations. Who needs tablecloths, anyway? And as for Ryan’s birthday, we had already agreed that we would celebrate both of our birthdays with a family picnic on Saturday. Maybe we’ll play pass-the-ball with Lily.

And that will most certainly be enough.

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