It wasn’t the first time Matthew had planned an extravagant surprise for Kate. On their first date, he stunned her with front row seats to a Gwen Stefani concert. During his senior year he declared his love for Kate in front of all her friends when he gave her two dozen red roses, one rose for every week they had been dating. Later, he spent months planning the elaborate details of how he would propose to Kate at Thousand Steps Beach. Each well devised surprise had been reciprocated with squeals of delight. Today’s surprise is going to beat them all, Matthew thought confidently as he guided his wife and newborn daughter up the stairs to the awaiting nursery.
After helping Kate up the last few steps, Matthew set their daughter, who looked so tiny sleeping in her brown and pink car seat, on the floor in the hallway.
“Now close your eyes,” Matthew directed Kate who was leaning into the stair railing for support.
“Why?” Kate asked cautiously. “I’m so tired Matthew, I just want to go lie down.”
“This will just take a minute,” he responded with a glimmer in his eyes.
“Uh oh, what did you do? I didn’t get you anything.”
“I wouldn’t say carrying our daughter for nine months was nothing. Now close your eyes.”
Guiding Kate slowly down the hallway, they stopped in front of the third and last upstairs door. The door was wrapped from top to bottom in a huge pink white and pink polk-a-dot bow. “Now open your eyes.”
“Okay,” Kate said tenatively.
Matthew was unable to suppress the grin that was plastered on his face as he flung the door to Hope’s nursery open. He couldn’t wait for Kate to appreciate the work he had done on the nursery throughout the week when he had traveled between home and the hospital to decorate the baby’s room. He knew how tired Kate was, and he didn’t want her to have to come home to a difficult project that required so much shopping and painting.
Eying the finished product, he was thrilled with how the room turned out. The bubble gum pink paint had definitely dried by now, and Matthew was grateful to see that once the paint had dried, it was the same shade of pink as baby’s crib sheets, frames and accessories. Kate had often teased Matthew of being unable to match colors, but today that would not be the case. He even painted the white dresser to match.
Watching Kate slowly enter the room and pick up the vase of bendable white daisies off the dresser, he couldn’t wait for her reaction.
Turning towards him, Kate had tears in her eyes. “You painted the nursery without me.”
“Surprise! I know you were still deciding what color scheme to go with, so I decided that being Hope is a girl, we couldn’t go wrong with pink. Do you like it?”
Shocked that Kate’s tears of joy didn’t match her wrinkled brow, Matthew’s smile faded.
“I was waiting to pick the colors because I wanted to take my time. Now everything is the color of Pepto-Bismol, all except these daisies! You even covered up the white finish on my antique set of drawers!”
“Oh honey, I thought it would make you happy.”
Unable to continue speaking, Kate’s trickle of tears turned into a flood. Sobbing, she sank into the rocking chair that featured a matching pink cushion.
Unsure of what to do next, Matthew stood dumbfounded at the door. Astonished that his surprise had turned out so wrong, Matthew considered what it would take to restore the dresser to its original finish. Watching his wife fall apart in front of him, the one thing he knew for sure was that being a new dad wouldn’t be as simple as he had thought it would be.
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