Dear Mr. Hive,
It is your birthday tomorrow. The big one. The one that starts with a four and ends with a zero. I won't type out the actual number here. I'm not a monster.
I know that birthdays and you don't always get along so well. I know that you try your best to age gracefully and all that, but we're years past the "at your age" conversation from the doctor.
We're decades past that whole thing that happened where we were in our early twenties and had to deal with the fact that we weren't invincible.
At least, not anymore.
We thought we were, sure, just like most young people do.
We thought we had all the time in the world.
We had these magnificent plans.
Yeah, well...life had other plans.
And here we are now. Healthy and well and still traveling along on this planet together, even if there were times it might not seem like it'd have remained that way.
I know that you want nothing more in the entire universe than to attend a Cub Scout Pack Meeting on your birthday. I know that you really want a house full of teenagers over to celebrate the day of your birth.
I know you'd probably pretend it isn't happening at all.
(Hey, it's better than the year we had to sit on the floor of the gym and watch squaredancing for your birthday, amiright???)
Our birthdays don't generally carry much significance around here, yours and mine. We're mom and dad before any of that other stuff, and mom and dad have obligations.
This is what life is like when you have a small herd of children. This is what life is like when you're able to have all these kids that you were never supposed to be able to have. This is what life is like when you fought like hell to keep your family together after traveling to and from hell a few times together.
This is what life is like.
It's messy and busy and complicated. It has the constant hum of dishwashers and dryers in the background. It's juggling work schedules and volunteer positions and running to the grocery store five minutes before dinner is supposed to be ready because some kid already ate that thing we're supposed to be eating right now. It's signing checks and creating meal and holiday spreadsheets and somehow making all the magic happen for these little people, some of whom aren't so little anymore. It's usually sticky. It's always oppressively crowded. It's screaming at the television when you know the name of the Disney movie first. It's gloating when you beat a teenager driving go-carts. It's getting lost in corn mazes on purpose. It's teaching a kid to play chess even when you know he's going to be able to destroy you soon. It's ordering headphones for yourself, then just handing them over when they arrive because someone else needs them. It's laughing and crying and screaming and playing and napping on the couch with someone tucked beside you. It's somehow reconciling the fact that we have teenagers and a baby at the same time and coming to grips with how we became the people who do things like that.
And you know what?
It's pretty goddamn amazing.
The most amazing thing about all of it, though, is that I get to do all of it with you.
I get to witness your evolution, as a husband, as a father, as a man. You haven't just grown older. You've grown.
I get to see who you are now, I get to watch you be the person you are now, I get to stand by your side when the pride at the people they're becoming washes over you and overwhelms you.
There is so much more to who you are than this man who happens to be a father. You are kind. You are nerdy on levels I haven't even realized. The outdoors calls your name even louder than it calls mine. You don't just love your hobbies; love isn't strong enough of a word. It's something bigger than all that. You are humble. You are strong. You are passionate about what you do, and you're damn good at it. Then there's the issue of that beard.
Oh, and the thighs. Damn. Those thighs.
(look away, kids...)
You are my safe place to land, and I hope that I am yours.
This number tomorrow, it's just that. A number.
Numbers are kinda your thing, though. You can manipulate them in ways that amaze me, you can make them seem bigger than they are, you can make them disappear. You can insist that they aren't material.
And they aren't material.
You aren't getting older.
You're just leveling up.
I love you, honey.
p.s. find a bird statue...