I snapped this photo of my husband and our oldest a few months back. And from time to time, I’ll come across it in my camera roll and pause to admire the beauty and the realness of all it entails. And more often than not, I will end up thanking my lucky stars that I hit the jackpot when it comes to who I partnered up with to father my children.
If there was a Daddy of the Year Award, we would need to build an addition onto our townhouse in order to hold the consecutive trophies he would bring home.
This man works 55-60 hour weeks as the sole financial provider for our family of five so that I am able to stay home with our kids (because who can afford daycare these days?), and you know where you can find him on his short breaks? Right here. Sitting at this table. Doing 3rd grade homework with our 8-year-old while asking her what she had for lunch, how her art project is coming along, if she’s remembered all her lines for her musical.
On his one day off a week, you can catch him at 10 a.m. lounging on the couch with my son passed out on his chest, our 2-year-old snuggled up next to him, and our 8-year-old sprawled on the other side. He will have just changed and fed all three kids so that I can get, on his only day off, a morning to sleep in.
Friends, acquaintances, and relatives complain tirelessly over how lazy their significant others are, how their house would be a pigsty if they weren’t there, they couldn’t imagine leaving their kids alone with them for more than a day, they are unengaged in their children’s lives and absent in the daily mundane tasks of parenting. And worse, and almost just as equally, I’ll listen to strong single moms, who are being forced to play every role for the household and in parenthood. Juggling finances, lacrosse practices, daycare and groceries all by themselves, sometimes barely scraping by.
And I am silenced. I am once again brought to my knees thanking God for sending me a man who does it ALL. Who takes care of me in every way, who feeds our entire family literally and spiritually, and sets examples and uses as many moments as possible to teach and mold and inspire our children to be better people. To be kinder. To be wiser.
There is no need for either my husband or I to thank each other for the work we both put into our life, our family, our household. But we both do. We both recognize, respect, and acknowledge the difficulty of each of our roles in our partnership. Because that’s what we are — partners. In life. In love. In parenting. And once again I feel lucky.
Recently, while sitting on our back patio after he had worked a 14-hour day, our children tucked in their beds, I’m finally seated next to him with my feet up, he told me how he could never imagine not having his children under his roof. How he would literally die before that ever happened. He would die for our kids. He brought up how he is always told what a great father he is. Which is true. If I run into anyone who knows us, at some point in our conversation they bring up what a great dad he is. And that’s true too — without question. But it bothers him, getting recognition for what he sees as simply being a father.
In his eyes, he is doing nothing noble or noteworthy. He is just fulfilling his role as a father. It is ingrained in him; he couldn’t stop doing what he does if he tried. He holds the responsibility for raising the next generation very close to his heart. He does not take it lightly. When he looks at our children, he sees CEOs, doctors, scientists, activists. He sees change and he knows he can enhance their visions and give them stronger tools to accomplish their biggest dreams. And this all comes with being a father.
He isn’t doing anything spectacular, extreme, or award-winning. He is doing what every man should be doing as a father. A husband. A partner in life. He does not want accolades or articles typed up about him by his wife, as she sits on the floor of their daughters’ bedroom, listening to their steady breathing, tapping out these words.
What this man of mine wants is for men to stand up and take responsibility for their seed. He wants it to be expected that the father puts in the same commitment, responsibility, and leadership in parenting as the mother. And shouldn’t we all want that?
I should not feel lucky that he does all he does; it should be a given. His actions shouldn’t be out of the norm or mentioned in casual conversation, but they are. Having a husband who side-gigs as a good father should not be the things wished for on shooting stars, on luck. Yet here I am listening to him unlock the door to come inside after not sitting down in 13 hours, to kiss me on the forhead and ask me how my day was.
And damn, do I feel lucky.