#HusbandWTF’s 40th birthday is this November. Months ago, I asked him how he’d like to celebrate. A no-frills kind of guy, his answer reflected his simple soul: “I’d like to be outside and I want my kids there and our friends’ kids there. No one should need a babysitter. Everyone is welcome.”
Had it been my birthday, I woulda been all SEND ME TO A REMOTE ISLAND WITH A BOOK AND A DRINK.
He’s a better person than I.
So, in the middle of the summer, I began planning for an October 6th shindig. The weather would be better and I knew having a party a full month before his actual birthday would definitely throw him off track. Fulfilling his wishes, we’d have the fiesta at our place, and his favorite things would be front and center: good BBQ, tons of family and friends, and a bonfire. Also: a bounce house for the kids because OBVIOUSLY.
Our family and friends were absolutely instrumental in helping me pull this off. I couldn’t have done it without their attention to detail, specifically when it came to concocting The Lies. That’s basically what a surprise party is, right? A whole bunch of lies! I felt guilty the entire time, bold-face fibbing to my husband’s handsome face, but it was a necessary evil if I hoped to truly surprise him. Here are some of my favorite lies we had to tell:
In late August…
Husband: I’d like to schedule a fall baseball tournament the weekend of October 6th. Do we have anything going on then?
Me: Nothing as of yet, nope…*furiously texting his assistant coach* I NEED YOU, MAN! YOU GOTTA NIX THIS TOURNAMENT.
Assistant coach pal: I’m on it.
*baseball officially nixed*
In early September…
Husband: Our son is going to be in a golf tournament on October 6th.
Me: Ummm…no dice. I just learned we’re celebrating my aunt’s surprise 60th birthday that day.
Me: *scribbles “60th surprise party” on our calendar*
One evening while I’m driving us home from visiting with family…
Husband: *uses my phone to text assistant baseball coach pal*
Me: *sweating! Previous conversation thread about canceling the tournament because of the surprise party is in plain sight*
Him: *text, text texty text. None the wiser*
DODGED A BULLET…or does he know and he’s not saying anything?!
A week before the party…
Me: Our friend scored us free firewood. We’ll need it for this fall and winter. Can you help her unload it?
Husband: FREE FIREWOOD! WEEEEEE! *unknowingly unloads firewood for his own party*
Three days before the party…
Husband: *going through our bills and check registers to balance family budget (he does this several times a year because he’s OBSESSED with Dave Ramsey)
Me: *walks in room, sees he’s all up in my financial biz, much of which is recent purchases for his party. One huge, rare withdrawal is staring him in the face, but neither of us says a word. I avoid eye contact at all costs, and walk away totally convinced he’s on to me*
The day before his party, Friday, I make a huge oopsie.
School mornings are hectic. Every kid needs something, almost always at the same time. We find ourselves running late a lot. Work emails are pinging and dinging and stressing me. Our poor doggie is old and her health is declining, so putting her outside to go to the bathroom is a time-consuming endeavor. All this is happening simultaneously and my son is badgering me about having a sleepover at his friend’s house. Without thinking, I blurt out: “I need your help getting ready for the party! You have to be here!”
Everyone freezes. This is the first they’ve heard of a party. I panic and pull the kids into the bathroom and close the door. I’m not sure why, especially since my husband was already gone at work, but it seemed necessary at the time. Plus, an exhausted, Type A hyper-planner in a blind panic knows no reason.
I come clean: “We’re having a surprise party for Daddy’s 40th birthday. Don’t mention any of this to anyone. Don’t even say the word party from now until tomorrow.”
They blink at me. I then tell my youngest she won’t be going on her preschool hike today because we’ll be running around finalizing errands and party details. I instruct my children to lie, and work really hard to keep them away from their dad for the remainder of the day because I’m a good parent. Fortunately, husband comes home late, and when he arrives, we’re piling in the car to go to the youngest kiddo’s soccer practice. I rarely take the older kids to her practice, so I’m worried this will be a red flag for him, but let’s be honest: any parent who gets a quiet Friday evening doesn’t question it.
Finally, it’s the day of the party. Everyone has their marching orders:
- At 6am, my brother picks up #HusbandWTF for work, having previously scheduled him as seasonal help.
- Once the husband is out of the house, the kids and I work on cleaning up the inside.
- At 9am, grandparents swoop in and take the girls to their soccer games, freeing me and the boy up to intercept deliveries.
- Friends and family come over to set up tables and chairs, put ice in coolers, drop off food and snacks, pile up firewood, clean out the garage, etc.. We’re all drenched in sweat by 11am.
As I’m paying our friend who dropped off the beer and ice, #HusbandWTF calls.
Me: *shushing everyone in the background* Hey, what’s up?
Husband: Are you at the girls’ soccer games?
Me: *momentarily forgetting that’s where I’m supposed to be!* Umm…yes! Yes, I’m here at soccer.
Husband: How are they doing?
Me: *cheers at fake play, makes up lies* K, bye.
Later that morning, my brother texts me to give warning: at this point, #HusbandWTF is still under the impression we’re going to my aunt’s surprise party, and my brother tells me he’s been talking about wanting to meet me and the kids there. He doesn’t want to come home first!
I devise a fool-proof plan which basically consists of nagging my husband until he does as I say. I call him…
Me: Hey, I have to head over to my aunt’s party early. Can you please feed the dog before you come over?”
Husband: Awww, I was just gonna come over right from work. Can’t you feed her before you leave?
Me: Buuuuut…*makes up more lies*
Husband: Okay, no problem.
It should be noted that while he told me no problem, #HusbandWTF was none too pleased with this sequence of events, as per my brother’s official report.
Approximately one hour until party time, most guests have arrived. My husband calls again. I forget to shush everyone this time.
Husband: Hi! I hear a ton of people, is everyone already at the party?
Me: Ummm…yes! (not a lie, so there!)
Husband: Is your uncle around? Ask him if he needs anything.
Me, sprints to stand next to my uncle who is in my back yard: Do you need anything?
Uncle: No, but thank you for the offer! We’re ready when he is!
My brother sends his “we’re almost there” text, and the party guests head to the front yard where we’ve planned to jump up and down and yell like fools upon my husband’s arrival. IT WORKS! Except our old doggie wanders too far up the driveway and I’m too busy chasing her, afraid my brother will run her over, and I miss my husband’s initial reaction. So, boo.
But I did see the cutest thing of all: 20 kids swarming him as soon as he got out of my brother’s work van to wish him a happy birthday. He was seemingly confused for the better part of an hour, and kept asking me questions about how I pulled it off. Because I did pull it off, you guys. Even with all the red flags and ooopsies and slip-ups, I managed to pull off lying to my husband for, like, three straight months. Which is why I’m more confident than ever I could lead a double life if I really wanted to.
I think I’d like my other name to be Candy. I shall wear a blonde wig and be a San Francisco real estate agent who rocks Versace suits and closes on million dollar listings. Meh. On second thought, I’ll just stay with my clueless husband and steel-trap secret keeping kiddos because if that surprise party showed us anything, it’s that we’re truly surrounded by incredible people who love us. Awwww!
<insert a Rolling Stones song here>
#HusbandWTF loves him some Stones.