I dated my husband for 10 years before marrying him. I like to be really sure of my decisions before acting upon them. When we finally did marry, I realized that I would need to carve out a role for myself in my new family. Being an only child, I never had to do this before. But now, I had 2 brothers-in-law, a sister-in-law, and a second mom and dad. That’s a lot of personalities in the mix, and I wanted to stand out.
When I was younger, I pictured myself becoming Wonder Woman. At five, this was a literal interpretation. My cousin even custom-made me a costume complete with bullet deflecting wrist bands and a Lasso of Truth. As I got older my interpretation of what becoming Wonder Woman would mean changed significantly. I pictured an amazing career in advertising, a husband who adored me, a charming, neatly kept house, and the time to craft, bake, garden, and throw decadent parties to rival the ones seen on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (sans all the crazy drama).
But then I met “Leslie” (name changed to protect the guilty). Leslie is my sister-in-law, a.k.a. the second coming of Martha Stewart. She is the ultimate household superheroine. She bakes bread from scratch, grows a vegetable garden in the backyard, wins “yard of the month” for the beautifully landscaped front yard, collects antique furniture, and cooks entrées like Duck Confit Cassoulet that requires two weeks to prepare. Oh yes, and she also sells high-end real estate and is raising the perfect, gorgeous blonde-haired child who prefers caviar to hamburgers and the viola to the violin. She’s 11.
How I would love to wrangle Leslie with the Lasso of Truth to find out how she does it all! By comparison, my house is rarely neat—matter-of-fact there are several doggie fur tumbleweeds rolling by on the hardwoods at the moment. I don’t bake or garden even though the Topsy Turvy Tomato Planter has been collecting dust in my garage for the past two years. I have never baked anything “from scratch” and the edible mainstay of the parties I throw include appetizers from Costco and dinners from the Honey Baked Ham Company. I just don’t have the time or energy for much more. And since I don’t have kids, it doesn’t seem I deserve a free pass for my mediocre existence. (At least, that’s my impression.)
So since the role of Domestic Goddess was so clearly already taken by my sister-in-law, I needed to develop a new persona for myself. Hence, The Card Lady was born. Actually, she wasn’t just born as I had been sending cards to family and friends for years. More accurately, she was rediscovered and newly impassioned.
My card giving surpassed the handwritten thank you note (a sadly dying art) and the traditional birthday card by leaps and bounds. I was a woman on a mission, to send cards for every holiday. And not just ANY card, but the absolute perfect card for each recipient. One that would resonate with them, make them laugh or cry—a card for them to keep and treasure forever. Or so I would like to think.
I scour every card rack that I see. I seek out high-end card boutiques. The magnetic stripe on my plastic Hallmark Gold Crown card is well-worn and I always use the gold seals provided on my envelopes to show that “I cared enough to send the very best.”
And for all my efforts, I have received more than I have given. My family has begun sending cards too—for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays. My in-laws even sent our dog a Christmas card containing money for visits to his favorite doggie daycare. (He’s really spoiled.) But by far the very best outcome has been that my husband, for each year since we’ve been married, has given me a custom-designed Valentine’s Day card featuring our anniversary year on the cover. This year marks our 9th Valentine’s Day together as a married couple and he continues to make me feel adored every day.
It turns out that I’m not the perfect homemaker that I thought I would be, but hey, that’s okay. I’ve evolved into someone who I think is pretty wonderful all the same. And it turns out that I had my own unique super power all along—the ability to make people feel loved and appreciated with a simple hand selected card and personal note. Take that Martha Stewart. XOXOXO