in the trenches

Dear Hubby, I Know I Complain A Lot But I Still Love You

When I actually watch you, I notice that you are exhaustedly giving your entire self to our family too.

Photo of a happy family enjoying in a water battle in their yard
AleksandarNakic/E+/Getty Images

Dear Husband,

It’s been a long couple of years. This phase of life with young kids is hard. Sleepless nights, foot-stomping tantrums, chaotic sports schedules, and confusing teacher conferences — we are in the trenches together, you and I. Add a global pandemic and it’s a miracle we haven’t cracked up. So this year, on Father’s Day, I want to say thank you. For all the crap you wade through with me every day, and all the love you shine on me and the kids.

I’ll be honest, sometimes I can be a little bitter. The endless months of nausea endured through pregnancies, the stretch marks, and the mangled vagina. The endless nights of nursing and infinite mental checklists of child and household responsibilities. Sometimes I think you get off easy. But when I take a moment and step back — when I actually watch you — I notice that you are exhaustedly giving your entire self to our family, too.

Your days look a little different than mine, stressfully fielding phone calls at the office rather than refereeing arguments on the living room floor. But the stakes are so high for you, as the responsibility of providing for an entire household is heavy and paramount. But you always leave room, even on your busiest days, to check in. With a quick text or phone call you make me feel seen, and understood. And on the extra hard days, when you know I am really in the weeds, you provide the kind of comic relief necessary to make me smile, often at your own expense.

At home you always pick up the slack. You fold the laundry when I am exhausted, and unload the dishwasher when I’m drained. Do I wish you were a little more of a build-savvy guy? Yeah, I’ll admit it. But God, when you restock the toilet paper before I ask — now that makes me horny. You participate in the kids’ routines, assisting in the morning chaos, homework, and sports prep. Without you, my reserves would be empty, and I would be completely unglued.

And I know I bitch about you coaching all the teams, but I am so proud of how you lead and teach. I know it takes a lot of planning and preparation, and while I sometimes feel resentful of the burden it places on me, watching you encourage and develop these amazing young kids makes me so happy to be your wife. I mean, I could stand to have a few less townie team sweatshirts in your wardrobe rotation, but I’ll deal with it.

And though this parenting experience hasn’t left your stomach stretched and dick deformed, I know this is a physically demanding job for you too. The shoulder rides, double-stroller pushes, and pool piggy-backs. The double-arm chair carries, cooler pulls, and equipment drags. With scheduled gym time a thing of the past, you race around the neighborhood alongside bikes and scooters to keep yourself in shape. You make it look easy though, like some human version of the energizer bunny, rarely getting tired, and never admitting it.

You are the fun one. Like a weird in-house clown you tell jokes, do dances, and morph into strange characters exactly when we need it. Some days, I roll my eyes in exhaustion at the show, but without it, life would be infinitely less enjoyable. You are the ray of sunshine that I am not — the positive, sometimes naive, but incredibly charming parent that our kids so deeply benefit from. They shine bright, because of you.

So this Father’s Day, take a load off. Crack a beer, watch a game, and take a (short) nap. Because our kids are a lot of work, and these past couple of years have worn us down. And you, my fun, loyal, rock of a husband, are the reason we are all still kickin’.

Samm Burnham Davidson is an ex-lawyer mom of four who swears a lot. She lives in Beverly, Massachusetts.