He’s kind, patient, thoughtful. He’s confident, genuine, and strong. He’s accepting of everyone. He’s hard-working and funny. In fact, he prides himself on his sense of humor and the jokes he tells (think: Chandler from Friends). He has no desire to actually make a living as a comedian, but he seems to be constantly working on a stand-up routine. He loves to brag about his amazing head of hair (and that’s not just ego talking; he really does have great hair!) and he’s smarter than just about anyone else I know. The amount of knowledge and information in that brain of his is astounding. And the facts that he remembers, even if he learned them long ago! He’s a sponge. Really. And I feel stupid on a daily basis because he just out-thinks me all the time. And I love him for it.
But that’s not really the purpose of this post. I don’t want so much to talk about who he is, but about the kind of devoted father he has evolved into over these last few years, and the wonderful man and husband he has been to me, always wonderful since the day we met nine-and-a-half years ago but especially so since the start of this pregnancy.
Honey really has been a gift to me, since our first coffee date in 2006, always and ever understanding of my insecurities and mood swings, gently guarding my easily-wounded heart, validating all of my irrational feelings and emotions, encouraging me to follow my passions and dreams, allowing me to be who I am without asking me to be anything more, and never shaming me for my infertility or miscarriage or all the pain and grief that it has caused me. In that, he has been amazing and everything I needed at all the right times. But when Cupcake was born in 2010, it was as though he lost all confidence. He’d never spent much time with children and he didn’t know what to do or what I needed from him. It took him a loooooong time to bond with Cupcake and, in the meantime, I think he maybe changed two or three diapers in the first two months of her life. He only held her when I essentially asked him or required him to. And he went to bed every night at 10 or 11pm and slept through until his alarm went off in the morning, while I got up to breastfeed frequently and then sometimes spent hours holding a baby who just wouldn’t sleep in the bassinet. I remember feeling so dang alone (and tired!) in those first few months. (For all of you first-time expectant moms who worry this could be you in just a short time, I promise it doesn’t stay that way forever! I think it maybe took us six months to find our groove and get back to some version of “normal.”)
Flash forward five years and everything is different. The Change started as soon as he and Cupcake made a connection in her later infancy, but it was especially noticeable years later, in the delivery room before Cupcake’s little sister Skittle was born. Instead of napping for three hours while I was in labor like he did with Cupcake, he stayed awake the whole time I was laboring with Skittle. And he was engaged and asked questions of the nurses (lots and lots of questions) and seemed happy and excited, rather than indifferent, unsure, or scared. And when our Skittle was born, he cried hard and whispered “I love you” and, every time I think of that moment, I fall in love with him all over again. Like, madly, deeply, I’m-so-giddy-I-could-sing in love. It still took a while for him to form a significant bond with Skittle, but he never hesitated to change her diaper, or give her a bottle, or hold and rock and snuggle her.
And now he is the father whose face lights up whenever he sees his children. And the father who spends nearly every second, from the time he walks in the door at the end of the work day until the time he tucks his children into bed, playing and reading to them. The father who stands at one of his girl’s bedroom door when she is asleep and says, “I just want to wake her up and hold her.” And the father who patiently takes Cupcake to her bed over and over again when she gets up multiple times before falling asleep with multiple lame excuses about why she’s up (“my blankets are twisted, Daddy,” and “I need someone to tuck me in better, Daddy” and “I want some more water, Daddy”). He’s the father who slowly and in the greatest detail explains how digestion works or what a sewer system is whenever his curious preschooler asks. The father who insists on calling the nurse about a low-grade fever. The father who feels guilty when he goes to a movie with a friend or on an out-of-state father-son expedition in search of meteorites, because he is not spending it with his girls. And praise the LORD, he’s the father who insists on sitting beside Skittle’s crib on the endless nights of teething when she is crying out for us, just sitting there in the dark with his Smartphone, sometimes for an hour or more, until she falls asleep. And never once seeming to mind doing it or making me feel guilty because I never handle that part of parenthood anymore. He’s that incredible.
But there’s more.
This pregnancy has been a hard one for me. Not only do I have two kids to wrangle now, rather than one or none, but the nausea and vomiting continued into the start of my third trimester. (I think we’re finally past it now. Woot woot!) There have been days — many, many days — where I was just too tired or sick when he came home to make dinner, pick up the toys, and do any other expected parenting duties. And so he would (and sometimes still does) handle it all. And I mean, all of it. My husband has never had much confidence in the kitchen, but he has learned how to cook and blend and bake anyways. He’s become the Smoothie Master in this household and has tweaked many a cookie recipe in an effort to create something that Skittle could eat with all of her allergies. And when he’s done cooking dinner or baking cookies, he’s gone on to mopping the kitchen floors, putting away the mess of toys spread from one end of the house to the other, bathing our girls, and putting them both to bed all on his own. And then he does the dishes, cleans the kitchen, empties the trash, and does whatever else I have put on his list for that day. There have been days in this pregnancy when he has worked, either for his employer or at home, from the time he woke up until the time he crash-landed in bed at night. And though I know he’s tired, rarely has he ever complained. And rarely has he made me feel like I’m not doing enough. And still, in between all of the chores and work and exhaustion that plague his day, he finds a way to make me feel extra-special, with an unexpected foot rub or a surprise treat brought home at the end of the day. He’s always thinking of and working for me and his family, never of and for himself.
The truth is, I don’t deserve him. Because he is every cliche in every epic love story. He’s not perfect, but he is my knight in shining armor. A hero. My rock. Bigger than life and always there, always strong and dependable. Always saving me, in one way or another. And I am not worthy of it. I am often tired, and cranky, at the end of my days, unable to give much of myself to anyone at that point. And he just gives and gives and gives. And somehow, he chose me and he sees that this is exactly how it should be and, as far as I know, doesn’t wish for anything else. Except maybe a bigger house. 🙂 Yes, I’m unfathomably lucky.
In fact, I often look at my Honey, and my two beautiful daughters, and this expanding belly, and I can’t believe how lucky I am. It’s not that infertility and my miscarriage and all of the junk that goes along with it is forgotten. I remember. But I it doesn’t rule my life any more. Or at least, not right this minute. Right now, there is no bitterness, or jealousy, or anger, or despair that I had to go through that. Just gratitude for what I have. Gratitude and love.