Years pass and the day comes when it's not just about the two of you anymore. There's a new life growing inside you, and you find yourself constantly anticipating what it will be like have a baby, to be a mother. You wonder what the man you love will be like as a father, and if your relationship will change, and how.
And then before you know it, the moment you've dreamed about constantly for nine months (and much, much longer if you're anything like me) arrives. Your baby leaves your body, takes his first breath and your life changes incredibly and permanently and it's far and away beyond your wildest dreams. You feel a divide between the person you were only a moment ago and the person you'll be for the rest of your life, between the woman you were and the mother you've suddenly become.
During those first few weeks, you feel things you've never felt before. Love is literally coursing through your bloodstream, beautiful and extreme and overpowering at times. You laugh and then moments later, you cry. You feel this tremendous admiration for your husband during the daytime hours and yet glare hotly at him in the night as he sleeps peacefully next to you while you're sitting up nursing (again).
Some couples seem to sail through this post-partum period, taking on their new roles and accepting their suddenly different relationship with apparent ease. Others struggle during this time, and seem to take longer to come to grips with the changes. There is no right and no wrong, there is only what is. Time eventually passes and parenting together becomes a new normal, although it never stops being hard.
In the week leading up to Father's Day this year, I spent a lot of time thinking about Steve and reflecting on who he is as a father. He's working out of town right now and we only see him once a week, on Sundays. We miss him so much during the week, but we are home and find comfort in our routine and in being together. He's away from home, sleeping in a strange bed and living out of his duffel. He doesn't get to see or talk to our kids for days on end. He misses milestones and countless everyday moments that once passed are gone forever.
He works hard while he's gone, in a physically and mentally demanding job that leaves him with just enough energy each day to eat, shower and sleep before starting again the next day. And he does all this without complaint, finding fulfillment in the job that he's doing and in the way that he's providing for his family. And though my love for him has evolved to reflect the changes in our lives over the ten years we've spent together, it's that quiet strength and stability that I've come to rely on and love most of all since having kids together. It's his patience and capacity to love and cherish the three of us so deeply, despite our flaws and despite the fact that loving us leaves little time for himself and his own personal interests.
Over the years he mostly hasn't been here to help me with the day to day parenting moments. He didn't change Riggs' diaper until he was over a year old. He's never gotten up in the night to soothe the baby back to sleep. Raina will be a year in two weeks and he's never put her down for the night. But he loves those babies deeply and savors every moment that he does get to spend with them. He reads to them for hours and teaches them things I don't have the patience for. He gets down and plays with them and makes them laugh in a full-bellied way that I can never seem to replicate. He takes Riggs alongside him in the garage and explains every step of the project he's working on to eager three-year-old ears. He is the best father for our kids, and puts his heart and soul into loving them.
He's also a thoughtful parenting partner, and makes it clear how much he values the work I put into being the best mother I can be. He loves me at my worst and always says just what I need to hear when I'm worn out and worn down and missing him desperately.
I'd be lying if I said there weren't moments when I wished he could help with more. When I wish I could sit and relax after dinner while he put the kids down to bed. But then I think of all the things he does do to help with them, and all the ways he sacrifices to make my life comfortable. And I think of how special it feels to be loved by such a strong, good, hard working man. And how he empowers me to be the best version of myself. And how beautiful our life is together. And I feel so thankful to have him as my best friend, and my husband and the father of my children.