A changed man.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog to bring you fond birthday wishes for Joe.


Dude, seen here being so hip it hurts, celebrates an undisclosed number of years on the planet today and I, in usual harlot form, will tell you why I’m going to get him a present, some cake and maybe something else he will like.

Joe changed. All the time everyone says you can’t change people and you need to just look at your spouse and say “Ok. This is it. This is who he is and I can’t change him.” This is absolutely true, very good advice to give people who are engaged and I’ve always completely accepted that you can’t change anyone, not even a little.

Imagine my surprise then, that it turns out that if the man in question really loves you, and really respects your goals and your happiness…then they will change themselves. (This was not a possibility that my mother explained to me.) This time last year was a mother, wife, writer and doula working from home. This had the benefit of providing our family with an almost seamless supply of warm dinners on the table and clean laundry that appeared suddenly in drawers. Joe did his stuff around the house (though I can’t remember right now what that was, only that I told him on more than one occasion that “No man has ever been shot while doing the dishes” and by way of encouragement, that I find men sorting laundry “really hot”.) but mostly it was my domain.

Then, encouraged by Joe, my first book was published and everything changed. I was gone a lot. When I wasn’t gone I was working. I had another book coming out and a third one to write and there were all of these planes and meetings and millions of knitters and yarn and…..I must have looked like I was having the time of my life this year. (Mostly because I was.) It was a lot of work, but when it’s the work you have always dreamed of doing, then writing until 4am has it’s rewards, you know what I mean?

The laundry stopped. I left on trips. The house exploded, the kids got disorganized. I came home from yarn crawls the book tour to discover not just that things were sticky, but that things were falling apart. I remembered that people don’t change…and I spent quite a lot of time wondering if this was too much for my family. I would come back and there would be no food, no clean dishes, homework abandoned…people wearing really strange outfits because they were at the bottom of the clean clothes supply…and on one historic occasion, a large hairball greeted me at the front door because there had been an executive decision by “Team Lord Of The Flies” to let it dry (!!!??!!) before making an attempt to clean it up. (It had dried. They had forgotten.) I admit that I wept as I pried it off the carpet. That night I lay in bed wondering if I could have this career, or if I needed to wait until the kids were older. It wasn’t just the hairball…it was the chaos.

Then it happened. Joe changed. Not all at once, and I admit that the change was subtle at times…but it was there. He started to understand how much toilet paper three teenaged girls need and that there’s nothing he can do about that. He started wiping things. He washed the kitchen floor and did a load or two of laundry when people had no underwear. (I’ll admit that the first time he did it, he was the one out of underwear, but change is a process.) He admitted that he could see how it might be upsetting to me to return from 8 days away and find the living room was not only trashed, but now contained a “patch bay” two “console channels” and a large editing system. (He didn’t move it, but he admitted that he could see why I might not like it.) He started making the bed. He did homework with the girls. He kept up with their activities…He bought fruit….and more than all of this..

He never, ever…not once, not for a second, no matter how much I was gone, no matter how much slack he had to pick up, even though he was doing a lot of work and a lot of change and lots of men would be bitter about their underwear-washing, dinner cooking, schedule coordinating mate just packing up and leaving all the time…(especially leaving them with three high-drama teenagers with advanced certificates in hostile behavior and guilt-trips) not once has he ever said anything to me except for “What’s the stuff you use to get gum off the bathtub?” “How many carrots can they eat in a day?” and …”I’m really so proud of you Steph.”

The wonder doesn’t end here. As if it were not enough that Joe has demonstrated that he can learn and change to support his family in their endeavors, better than that…he did something remarkable.

He didn’t change the stuff I already liked. He’s still funny, and charming and sweet and mourned a hamster. He’s also still late, sometimes annoying and not yet someone who can own a cell-phone, and I don’t want to pretend that he is now some sort of tidy, Vim-loving clean-freak … but these are the spices in his personality. The things that keep him from being milk-toast bland, the things that tell me that he’s never going to get boring, or mundane or ordinary. A year after his last birthday, I have a changed man, and a better one.

Happy Birthday Joe.

(I’ll do the groceries today.)

183 thoughts on “A changed man.

  1. Happy Birthday, Joe! It’s my birthday too, and I have a great fondness for all 11/1 birthday-ees. Keep up the good work–you are an inspiration to husbands everywhere! Mary in Seattle

  2. Happy Birthday to the true miracle man! And thatnks for picking up the slack so we knitters can have our share of the Yarn Harlot!

  3. I still can’t get over the fact that this loving partner of yours actually bought a floor mop. Some man you have there. Have a great day Joe!

  4. He sounds like a keeper! πŸ™‚ And maybe someone who should write a support book for spouses whose other half have a demanding career.
    Happy Birthday to Joe!

  5. Geez, it seems like it was only a few months ago that we were celebrating Joe’s last birthday.
    Happy birthday Joe, hope that there are many more to come.

  6. Well, other than the unfortunate juxtaposition of toilet paper and wiping,
    other than that, another masterfully wrought timber in the construction of My Favorite Fictional Character. (The fact that he’s real to you has nothing to do with it. From where I’m sittiing he’s entirely constructed of what you tell me.)
    And Dude, great hair.

  7. How Appropriate — Joe was born on All Saints’ Day! I’m off to light a candle at the altar of Positively Altered Husbands (and I don’t mean vasectomized).
    Happy Birthday, Joe.

  8. Happy Birthday Joe! Well, I guess it’s true…love does do wonders and move mountains! Great hubby you got there…hope he enjoys his day! Love his hair too… πŸ˜‰

  9. Happy Birthday Joe! Maybe Joe should start a blog to train all the rest of our husbands. Not that all the rest of us are on book tours, but training is always good!

  10. You go Joe!! Happy Birthday and many more. And Stephanie, you got a good one there.
    On a side note, I went to buy your 2nd book at a LYS and it was BACK ORDERED!! yay yay yay, I’m so happy your book writing is a success. Now, when are you coming BACK to california??

  11. Can we get Joe and Dale together? They not only have the hair thing in common but that part about learning to do things around the house, too. Just because it makes their wife happy. It’s a good good thing when someone you love does something they don’t want to do just because they know it makes your life easier.
    Happy Birthday, Joe!

  12. Happy Birthday, Joe!
    You give the rest of us hope that men can (and do) change.
    How about giving lessons or holding seminars? I can think of someone (or 10) who would benefit from your Scoprio-esque passion for those you love, and un-Scorpio-esque willingness to change yourself (also for those you love).

  13. Happy Birthday, Joe! I smiled as I read today’s entry, it reminded me so much of my own husband. I never expected him to change, but he has done so anyway, becoming very supportive of my creative life.
    Thanks for reminding me to tell my Gryphon how much I appreciate him.

  14. Happy Birthday Joe! Treat yourself to Goo Gone for your bday — it gets rid of all goo, from gum in the tub to bird poop on the car.

  15. Steph, that’s just about the sweetest thing I’ve ever read. Not only is it wonderful that Joe’s changed to pick up the slack, but that you recognize and appreciate the effort. You guys are great. Happy Birthday Joe.

  16. Joe! Now more than ever, you ROCK.
    (Did he knit the socks in the picture, too?)
    And yes, with Rams, I did notice the unfortunate juxtaposition of the toilet paper and the wiping. But you’re to be forgiven — you’re awed by your man. It’s worth it.

  17. What an amazing tribute. Also having a SO who’s in the process of changing, I know what an wonderful thing that is. Way to go, Joe. Happy Birthday! (And the harlot is right–men sorting laundry *are* “really hot.”)

  18. Happy Birthday Joe-you rock dude (and great hair)!!!
    The teenagers in the house have some kick-ass role models, as in two adults who love, respect, and appreciate each other, and most of all are willing to grow and change. So so cool.
    Toliet paper…wiping things…hee hee hee….

  19. Joe, you may not know this but these preceeding paragraphs were THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER WRITTEN. By a woman who knows how hard it is to maintain a crew (and the thousands of us reading her know it too, b/c we do it) to a man who figured out that you can show love by changing the toilet paper roll. We feel the love! We love you now too! Happy Birthday!

  20. What an amazing man to have acted on what was necessary (i.e. survival what with parenting 3 teenage girls) and still keep all the personality traits that were already wonderful.
    Happy Birthday!

  21. Happy Happy Birthday! Having witnessed my own SO change over time, I know how amazing it is. Thank you, Joe, for sharing Stephanie with us! Hooray!

  22. Aww. What a lucky woman you are. And how fortunate your daughters are. Sometimes it takes just the right situation (and a big of life experience) to bring out the ultimate awesomeness of a person. How nice for all of you… and Happy Birthday to you, Joe!! Can’t wait to read how awesome you are next year too! πŸ™‚

  23. Happy Birthday to Joe! A wonderful tribute, Stephanie, to the man you love who has made you the person you are, too! About the time the girls have to move on in their own worlds, they’ll begin to have an inkling of who you guys are and how very lucky they have been to have both of you as parents.

  24. A true testament to what it means to be “in it for the long haul” with someone. You guys are great. Happy Birthday, Joe.

  25. Happy Birthday Joe!! Are those socks on the picture for him.
    Thanks for sharing Steph with us.

  26. Dear Joe
    Happy Birthday to you
    You live in a zoo
    But so does my family
    And we love it too!
    Happy birthday to the guy who keeps the monkeys from taking over while the head zoo-keeper is out of town!

  27. Happy Birthday to Joe!
    Having a partner like that, truly supportive of what you’re doing, makes this writing thing a hell of a lot easier. I left my guy at home to run off to an artists’ colony for a month and, though a drafty old house, two dogs and a possessed kitten do not equal a drafty old house and three teenagers, he’s managed to go from flip to overwhelmed to truly appreciative of how damn much gets magically done when he isn’t looking when I’m home…and now he’s mostly managing it okay on his own. Or so he claims. We’ll see what I walk back into when I get home next week.
    Yay for Joe! (and all folk brave enough to mate with writers)

  28. Wow, that’s awesome! Happy Birthday Joe!
    And, from a woman who also married a man with some seriously curly hair – I love the hair.

  29. Well, Steph, that’s about the greatest tribute to love I’ve read in a while. What a great birthday present to Joe, to have his love share her love of him with however many of us are here to read this. **sigh** Ain’t love grand?
    And it is a mystery of life that, once you accept that you can’t change your mate, once you decide to love that person with all their warts, the possibility of change enters the relationship. The best of all possible worlds.
    I’m so proud of both of you. Way to go.
    Happiest of birthdays, dude, and many more.

  30. Steph, you are so, so lucky to have this man who obvioulsy loves you so much to be your partner and best possible role model for your girls of how a REAL MAN respects and supports and encourages the woman he loves to follow her passions.
    Happy Birthday Joe!

  31. Oh, and Stephanie, a man like that truly deserves to be kept warm, wrapped in the loving hug of a handspun, handknit gansey…

  32. Happy Birthday, Joe! It’s kinda fun to think that hundreds of (mostly) women all over the world are sending you birthday greetings, encouraged by your wife!
    Anyway, I wish you many many more years of happiness (cuz the girls won’t always be teenagers, and you’ll get to have a really good laugh when they have daughters of their own)…

  33. For almost 35 years, I’ve had a “Joe” in my life too. I remember when the girls (2) were small, I would leave town for a few days and come back to near chaos. Just not up to my usual standards. I was told, politely, by my Joe that he had a “different” way of taking care of house and daughters…it’s not a bad/good thing. I then understood…his way was different, the girls were always happy, though dressed funny with odd hair…but to this day, they adore their dad. Life is good. Happy BDay Joe!

  34. Joe, we love all you for loving our girl enough to share her with us.
    And, look! It’s Tuesday. So after Steph gives Joe his present while the girls are at school, maybe she can spin some gansey yarn?
    Never was a godless union so heaven-blessed.

  35. Happy Birthday, Joe!
    May the road rise to meet you,
    May the wind always be at your back,
    May the sun shine warm upon your face,
    May the wool and the wool-keeper find you happy, healthy, and well for another fantastic year.

  36. Flowers and jewelry are nice, but it is the everyday acts that truly show love.
    Love is taking out the garbage in the rain.
    Joe (like my long-haired SO) is a keeper.

  37. Rock on, Joe, Rock on and Happy Birthday, dude.
    Is it safe to assume that Joe was serenading those socks?
    Steph – so what you’re saying is, I need to leave home for longer amounts of time to get the rocker-dude to clean the house? I have to admit, he did clean up before I returned after a week away. These overnight jaunts do nothing to improve dish washing schedules.

  38. Change is good. Very, very good. Do you think Joe might give my son a talking to about this “cleaning” subject? Maybe some words from Joe the miracle man would encourage him to help his mom out around the house!

  39. Dude, you so totally ROCK! Hope you have a fab birthday! I also hope my next relationship can mirror just half of the one you guys share! Enjoy! ;}

    this is your day to shine! enjoy.
    in my family there are lots of hugs and ear snuffels too!!! πŸ™‚
    she couldn’t live without you!

  41. Happy Birthday Joe,
    and thanks for giving us single girls hope! πŸ™‚ Steph you done good.. and i’m proud of you too πŸ™‚ karola

  42. Happy Birthday Joe! Not only is the change much appreciated (thanks for sharing her with us) but notice- I think she stopped looking in the trash for evidence of ice cream and binges on “bad fats”. And doesn’t complain about the mugs or the silverware being in the wrong spots. Good tactic- distracting her with the hairball and sound equipment.
    You know, Joe was right when he said he was a Bay “Man”. What a man!

  43. Oh, wish him a happy birthday from me too. From the sound of it, he’s a wonder. Until now, I thought “man who can change” was like bigfoot or some other such myth. Inspiring.

  44. The one day in his life that my father made his own lunch (a grilled cheese sandwich) my mother circled the date on her calendar in red ink. And then she saved the calendar.
    But you, you’ve got a sexy, rock-out guy who will also do his bit around the house to help make your dreams work…yeah, I’d keep him.
    Many happy returns to the guy. Y’all are a beautifully matched pair, like salt and pepper. Or peaches and cream. Or Wallace and Gromit.

  45. Happy birthday Joe! My best wishes for a fantastic, joyous, loving, wonderous, hairball-and-gum-on-the-tub free year! Thank you for allowing us to share in the adventures of Team Harlot. πŸ™‚

  46. Many happy returns, Joe. Steph, you’re a very lucky woman… but then… Joe is pretty lucky too!

  47. Lucky Stephanie. Lucky Joe. Lucky kids. Happy birthday, and congratulations to you all for doing the family thing right.

  48. Joe is THE MAN!! Happy Birthday Joe! A man among men!! Admired by harried women everywhere!!
    (hey Steph, can I send my hubby to you for “Joe Lessons”??)

  49. Happy Birthday Joe!! I still stand by my assertion that I married the most wonderful man on the planet, but Joe sure sounds like a mighty close second. Enjoy the day together!

  50. Happy Birthday Joe!
    Did you know that today is All Saints day in the church. No pressure at all 8)

  51. Gratis pa fodelsdagen, Joe!
    (That’s ‘happy birthday’ in Swedish, sort of)
    And WOW! we can even see (most of) the floor in that picture! (What a pretty rug)
    You are a prince among husbands!

  52. Joe – just a simple “Happy birthday to you!” Thanks for loaning Stephanie to us “yarn” groupies. Hope your day is extra special nice – like you!

  53. Bon anniversaire!
    And, I thought every living room required some sort of music-related equipment? We always have at least one power amp, some sort of huge bass cabinet, and an effects pedal… πŸ™‚ (I can’t complain. The yarn overflow takes up WAY more room.)

  54. So it is Tuesday. And it is Joe’s birthday (many happy returns, Joe).
    So where is this wonderful man’s gansey?

  55. Happy Birthday, Dude!
    This reminds me to give my guy a big hug when I get home from my night out tonight. WHile he picks up child, makes dinner, and even cleans up after. It’s taken a while, but he does know how.

  56. Woah. Joe has really nice hair! It’s all shiny and curling in an orderly way! He should be proud of such hair (even if he has no gansey yet).
    happy birthday Joe. πŸ˜€

  57. Happy Bithday to your man – must be wonderful with such a good relationship…
    Now, next step is to teach the girls how to handle mr Washie….

  58. Happy Birthday, Joe!
    You’re the living embodiment of “For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.”
    Thanks for sharing Stephanie with all of us.

  59. Happy Birthday Joe! You’re clearly very fortunate to have one another. Kudos for working at it and for being willing to change and support one another’s endeavors.
    Ain’t love grand??

  60. Heck yeah AND from the looks of it…I bet he can strum a mean guit-ar too. Clone him and send me one. A man with an ability to recognize the hamster had a sense of humor AND who is supportive? Send two!
    You both are wonderful!

  61. Happy Birthday Joe! Thanks for all you do for Stephanie! From one Canadian to another, have a great one, eh.

  62. Awwww. A more touching tribute I have never read. Happy birthday, Joe!
    (I wonder now… is there some way I could get sent off on a book tour?… I guess that would involve writing a book, wouldn’t it?)
    (Proceeds from the bidding war between Kate TOK and me to be donated to TSF…)

  63. Happy birthday, Joe! Who would have thought that nice *and* cool could be found wrapped up in one package?

  64. Happy Birthday Joe – Change is good, and it sounds like you’ve gotten good at it. What a gem! Enjoy your day :~}

  65. Happy Birthday Joe, Coolest of Men! It’s my day too…but you’d be cool even if we weren’t birth-mates.

  66. Happy Birthday Joe! You Rock!
    Stephanie, you’ve got yourself a good man and it’s a wonderful thing that you realize it.

  67. Wow.
    I say again, WOW.
    Joe is one incredibly cool dude. Steph is one incredibly lucky woman… and best of all for Joe, she knows it!
    May your lives be ever thus!

  68. What a blessing to be doing what you love with the love and support of your husband.
    Are you still doing the doula work? I am a bradley instructor in Texas when I am not knitting, being a sign language interpreter and taking care of my 3 beautiful children- all brought into the world with the help of the same fabulous doula.

  69. I’m gonna print this out and leave it on the refrigerator – not to remind him, but to remind me. Mine’s in the process.
    What honor you do your darling Joe. Happy Birthday, Joe and well done, Steph.

  70. Happy Birthday Joe!
    You know if you put the coffee cups in the way she likes them sometime her head will just explode…
    Hey, when do we get a Joe guest blog?

  71. Hey Steph,
    Tell Joe that not only do you adore him, but that all your knitting fans appreciate him for making it possible for you to make every one of our days better. And I hope you two get to share infinite numbers of birthday.

  72. Happy Birthday Joe, and congratulations Stephanie on having such a wonderful hubby… so often we fail to appreciate those near and dear to us and take their terrific-ness for granted. Points to you for seeing, and for sharing. Big birthday hugs to Joe!

  73. Til lykke med foedselsdagen Joe.
    hurra, hurra, hurra for you – I hope you are having a wonderful birthday.

  74. Happy Birthday Joe!
    Here’s hoping you’ve had a wonderful day and will have another year filled with love and happiness (and a little less chaos). =)

  75. Happy Birthday Joe! Thank you for supporting Stephanie – it makes all us knitters really happy to have her around! And three cheers to you for not complaining about her absence, sticky floors, lack of underwear, and reams of TP for the girls! Good for you!

  76. Happy Birthday Joe! Oh, and how remarkable …. there seems to be a sock on your electronic whatchamacallit!

  77. Steph, I must say that you brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful testament to how much you two love eachother. His changing and support of you and your gratitude and amazement at his transformation.
    Yes, Happy Birthday Joe and happy everyday Joe and Steph.
    You both are blessed.

  78. Awwwww…see it just goes to show you, true love can transcend anything, even hairballs. I’m happy for you guys. Happy Birthday Joe. (Got any single brothers?)

  79. Happy birthday Joe – and thanks for that wonderful, life-affirming report, Stephanie!
    And what *is* that thing you two use to get gum off the bathtub, btw?

  80. Now that, there, is love – pure and simple. Happy birthday to Joe, a man who is as lucky to have his wife as she is lucky to have him πŸ™‚

  81. First time poster! I say kudos to Joe and Happy Birthday. I will now go kiss my unappreciated husband who is helping me through nursing school and turning a blind eye to my blossoming yarn stash. Thanks for the reminder to appreciate what sits right in front of you (not just the alpaca/silk blend but your mate too!).

  82. Happy Birthday Joe! You share it with my younger son, Alastair, who is 5! I echo the thanks from other posters for supporting Stephanie, because she makes us happy with her wonderful blog. I remember leaving my firstborn, Robbie, with his dad for five days when I had to go away on business. He was about six months old and when I got back his dad said, “He takes his bottle surprisingly hot, doesn’t he?”! Scary! And so not what I wanted to hear! But they both survived. Anyway, hope y’all have a great day!

  83. Happy birthday and bon anniversaire, Joe! You two sure are blessed to have one another!

  84. Steph-I too am in love with a man just like Joe-lots of people don’t get to be married to their best friend, but you and I have this in common too. Never once has my “joe” complained about my stash-yarn crawls-late night knitting, AND he does all the domestic duties that need doing without asking. We both work, have 3 boys (one grown and out of the house now) and spastically hectic schedules. We have a kinship and are truly lucky-and in love. Happy Birthday Joe! from Colorado USA.

  85. I married a lovie like Joe too. It took 38 years to find him though.
    Happy Birthday Joe!

  86. Happy Birthday Joe!! Those of us born on November 1 are amazing humans!! You are obviously one of the very special and very smart ones. With a HUGE heart!!
    Happy belated birthday from a sister November 1!

  87. I don’t know if it’s just because I am weepy today, but that post really choked me up…Happy
    Birthday, Joe!

  88. Maybe Joe should write a book or conduct a workshop on how to safely live with a Knitter? Possible title, “How to Satisfy your knitter.” eh-hem.
    Happy Birthday Joe!

  89. Thank you, Harlot– my husband (who is actually tid\ier than I am, bless his soul) and I are both so weary of seeing men vilified or made to look like totally incompetent, evil goobers in the media–it was absolutely lovely to read about a man who is real, who is flawed, and who is perfect to his wife. (Of course, he’s not really not only perfect man… I’ve got one too… who else would help me plan for the 4th baby by finding a reasonable thing to do with all the yarn in the 3rd baby’s room?)

  90. Steph – beautiful entry! What a tribute to a great guy from his equally terrific mate! As the wife of a man who also changed because he loves me and is a fair man (he retired – I didn’t so he picked up most of the household chores without my asking), I only wish I could express my appreciation so eloquently!

  91. How cool to share my birthday with someone so wonderful! Thank you for sharing Stephanie with all of us knitters. And belated Happy birthday!

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