Dear Husband, on our Firsts’ First Birthday,
I love looking back on the walk that we’ve taken to where we are today: our firsts’ first birthday. When we got married, I thought I knew everything I could about you. But, getting to know you as a father has been such a delightful discovery. The first week was a blur in most ways, but also so very clear in moments where the euphoria of it all created a vignette around what was now our world. Settling in for our first night as a family of three, I watched you hold her. I could tell that you were studying her every feature, creating an imprint of it in your mind, and in turn – in mine as well. Your arms swallowed her little, bundled body. You smiled, without actually smiling at all. I could not have loved you both more.
Look, it’s not been easy. The euphoria did fade. My body suddenly felt foreign to me; my mind had gone MIA (still is); and the feeling of being needed continuously often left little for me to give to our relationship. I was learning how to be a new mom – a working mom – nursing and having to pump at work mom – a mom who was relentlessly trying to hold onto her independent fire. And you were figuring out how your part as dad fit into that equation. As a finance guy, I think I stumped you there for a bit. But, you figured it out. We both did.
We applied the same “team” mentality that we had for our marriage to parenthood. We took turns with dirty diapers. We offered the helping hand, mostly in the form of a burp cloth. We found ways to assist each other, without being asked – communicating through raised eyebrows and sighs. We had to give our relationship time to catch up and gave each other grace when things were just “off.”
We transitioned through every new phase of our first year of parenthood. We re-learned our way of life together and will continue to through each phase and new addition. We will have to remember that this is a marathon and that what is happening right now is not how it always will be.
In many ways, it can be easier to be the dad. But in those exact same ways, it can be difficult. And even when you feel like you are really getting the whole “dad thing” down, the reality that you are “not the mama” is often so very obvious.
But I hope you also see the ways that only you can be dad. Only you can fill the supportive role as a father figure. Only you can create that unique bond between dad and daughter. Only you can show her how she should be loved. Only you can provide the balance needed to complete the other piece of the puzzle. “Mama” looks a lot different without “dada.”
And I want you to know – that you’re doing it. It is so special to watch you two interact and to see that “love at first” grow into something truly unique between you both. You all have created your own language, made up mostly of giggles and “da-da-da-da-da’s”. There is no song that you would sit out dancing with her. There is no silly gesture that you wouldn’t do over and over again just to make her smile. You are shameless in your love for her. And I love that.
As much as I hold such sweet memories of you caring for our girl, what has truly stuck with me is how you also cared for me. You cared for me when I was extremely hard to care for. You cared for me when I resisted. You cared for me when I couldn’t care for me. You cared for me and carried me through.
I know that I’ve thanked you in passing – out of routine or courtesy. But, really. Thank you. I’m the mother I am because you’re the husband and father you are. And it’s funny how that works out and how I have such confidence in us because we understand our equal part in our relationship to one another, our relationship within our family and friends’ groups, and our relationship as parents. We are better individually by who we are as a team.
You are my world, and you’ve hung the brightest star in my sky.
Love you, always (even when you wake the baby because your idea of tip-toeing is different than mine)