I’m not going to lie. There are some days my husband and I hardly talk to each other. With two kids, a full-time job, a part-time job, and very little help with childcare or housework, we have our hands full. It is a life full of joy—our two boys fulfill us more than we could have imagined. But sometimes it feels like parenting, with its endless responsibilities, leaves us very little time for ourselves—or each other.
When my screaming newborn was placed in my arms 8 years ago, and the demands of being a mom turned my world upside down, I had little faith that anything about my previous life could survive. And yet, a few years into this parenting gig, I can say that however ridiculously time consuming and exhausting it is, parenthood hasn’t wrecked our marriage. In fact, our marriage is stronger than ever.
It’s not perfect, of course. And neither are we. I have a list of complaints about my husband (right now I’m on a campaign to get him to spend less time on his goddamn cell phone, and I’d love it if he’d take out the trash without me asking, and it would be amazing if he’d learn to close the shower curtain all the way so the toilet paper roll isn’t soaking wet when I go to use it, and…oops, got a little sidetracked there). And I’m sure he has some complaints about me (mostly that I should quit it with the nagging!).
BUT—when I consider how well our relationship is surviving parenthood, I realize it boils down to the fact that we co-parent really well together, and my husband is as present and responsive to our kids as I am. He gets our kids, connects to them, and whenever’s he’s home, he will do anything for them, day or night. And, by being an amazing dad, he is giving the greatest gift to me, too.
I’ll tell you a little secret—his top-notch dad skills make my heart go pitter-pat, and are really sexy. (Yes, our sex life is surviving parenthood as well.)
I know there are lots of husbands out there who rock fatherhood like he does. And being a good parenting team isn’t the only thing that counts in a marriage. But I also know there are a lot of dads who just don’t get it, and can’t show up in all the ways their kids and partners need them to. Believe me, I pinch myself daily, and am in awe of my good luck.
So, to my husband (and all the kick-ass fathers out there):
Thank you for waking up with the kids on the weekend so I can sleep in. This morning I woke up and the living room was covered in superhero action figures. You were playing with our son—Superman in one hand, and a cold cup of coffee in the other. Be still my beating heart.
Thank you for all the times you stayed up all night with one of our vomiting children. Thank you for taking all the pukey laundry to the washing machine, and thank you for not complaining. Ever. (Let’s just say that I would have complained A LOT.)
Thank you for all the many evenings you spent walking our fussy babies up and down the hallway. There was nothing like the “daddy walk” to get them to calm the f*ck down (sorry, but those fussy evenings with newborns slayed me).
Thank you for schlepping the kids to birthday parties, swim lessons, baseball practice, soccer practice, doctor check-ups. There are just some things I’d just rather not do, and driving the kids all over town is one of them. Thank you for doing that when you can.
Thank you for waking up at 5 a.m. each morning to go to work just so you can get home early to spend those precious few hours before bedtime with our kids.
Thank you for never complaining when you walk through the door after a 12-hour day and I throw a couple of kids in your face, screaming “I just can’t take it any more!”
Thank you for remembering how the toddler likes his pizza cut (rectangles!), and how our older son likes to be tucked in with the blankets opening up on the left side of the bed.
And thank you right now, for taking those two cranky kids out to the park so I could write this sappy love note to you.
I think sometimes dads get a bad rap. Believe me, I am aware that too many fathers abandon their families—or, even if they’re physically there, they just don’t get what it means to be a present, involved dad. But I think we need to take a moment to celebrate all the good dads out there. The dads who show up. The dads who get it.
I know it’s hard when it feels like the weight of world is on your shoulders, but you are creating lifelong trust with your kids. You’re giving them a real-life positive image of what a man can be.
And you’re giving your partner a chance to come up for air, to get some much needed moments of quiet. You’re allowing her to remember who she is, aside from “Mommy.”
Most of all, you are reminding her why she fell in love with you in the first place.