Today is Pat’s birthday.
To be completely honest, few days have ever really been about Patrick since the moment Dani was born. Father’s Day must be shared with his father, both of mine, and—for several years so far—my 8-year-old niece, whose birthday inexplicably needs to be celebrated that day as well.
Call it cosmic, fate, or downright unfortunate, but Patrick’s birthday also falls in the same two week period as both of my fathers, my grandfather, my niece, his niece, and a couple of random uncles. For as long as I’ve known him, Patrick has never made a big deal about the fact that his actual birthday gets overlooked, booked over, and swept aside for someone else’s event almost every year.
One year it was my brother’s rehearsal dinner. Another year Patrick had a business trip to India, and the girls and I were in Minnesota. This year it’s my stepdad’s 70th birthday party.
But Pat planned ahead.
Patrick’s actual birthday fell mid-week, so he took the day off. Knowing the girls and I spend a lot of time out of the house mid-week, he had only one request. He wanted to enjoy one peaceful day laying on the couch for as long as he wanted, watching ESPN’s 30 for 30. And maybe play a little Madden on the PS3.
It may seem silly, but Patrick’s large-screen HDTV (acquired sometime in Dani’s infancy) rarely gets used by him. We see a lot of High Def PBS and Disney cartoons. But when it comes to anything Patrick wants to see, the poor guy usually has to lock himself in our room to watch it relatively undisturbed on an old refurbished TV he picked up in his post-college bachelor year.
I try to do more to celebrate him.
Seeing as Pat’s pretty much the sole provider for our family, working practically non-stop to supply us with day after day of non-stop entertainment, I’d like to give him something spectacular for his birthday. But, since he does earn about 99.5% of the income in our house, any large purchases, respectfully, should be discussed in advance. And he’s turned them all down.
The only thing he wanted, in addition to peace and quiet with his TV, was new pictures of his girls to set on his desk at work.
So, to be sure to fulfill his simple birthday requests, the girls and I spent the day before preparing. We made the trip to the Duarte Target photo center to pick up our same-day 5x7s. And we selected his cards, one from each of us.
Since our kitchen and living room are pretty much the same shoe-box space, and our activity would most certainly disrupt his peace, we baked his cupcakes and frosted them the evening before as well.
His cards and cupcakes would be waiting for him at breakfast. And his gift from his parents (the 30-for-30 box set) sat next to the Kodak Gallery printouts.
In an effort to make the morning even better, I planned to take both girls and get him a breakfast burrito, and a triple-shot mocha to start his day, while he slept late.
Of course even the best laid plans go awry. Especially in our house.
The dog started the morning mêlée at 6 chasing a cat, then as the girls and I attempted to leave at ten past seven she bolted out the door. Out of fear their new pet would get hit by a car, the girls buried their heads into the couch pillows screaming, while I ran after in my pajamas and socks, bra-less, down the street past the and traffic.
By 7:20 the entire neighborhood was awakened by the ruckus, including Pat. He sat consoling the girls as I returned, dragging our mutt by the collar back into the house.
After we collected ourselves, and made the food and coffee run, we had only one minor injury—to Kara, who twilled herself right off her feet and into the side of Daddy’s dresser—and managed to stay relatively on schedule.
We did our best to fulfill Pat’s wishes, only stopping in for brief pick-up and drop-offs a couple of times throughout the day.
After a long day out of the house, the girls and I returned promptly in time for dinner, with burgers from The Counter. Despite a couple of meltdowns and traffic frustrations, everyone was pretty much intact. Daddy got his day, and we all were glad for it.
We put a few candles in a cupcake and sang “Happy birthday,” then rushed the girls through their evening routine. After kissing them goodnight, all I wanted was to grab a glass of wine and join Pat in the divot in the couch until our own bedtime.
Maybe next year we can get a sitter and both take the day off.