Dear Husband, Thank You for Not Waiting for Me

Dear Husband

 

This is a response to an essay posted on Scary Mommy

Dear Husband, I know that while there are days we both long for the simplicity of just us, before we had our beautiful daughter.  We were able to have each other to ourselves, and yes, I miss the long hours of playing video games, of spontaneous dates, and late night movies.

Dear Husband, I know that you’ve pushed yourself outside of your comfort zone, and I know that you’ve done it so that neither one of us have to travel the parenthood path alone, and I am so grateful and so honored that you dove into the role of parent and totally immerse yourself in the diaper changes, late night feedings, bedtime stories, and snuggles. Because you chose to rise above the stereotypes, the gender conditioning, and the absurd notion that women are care-givers and fathers are buddies, we’ve managed to grow closer, rather than farther apart.  We’re better parents, and better friends because we parent together.

I’m so glad you didn’t wait for me on the sidelines, as if being a father was some spectator sport. You didn’t wait and watch while I raised our daughter. You jumped right in beside me, into the fray. When the other dads are boasting about how few diapers they changed, you shrugged your shoulders and said, “I don’t know man, I’d be ashamed if I let my wife do all the work. Changing diapers isn’t so bad.”  When another dad tells a story, and rolled his eyes because he couldn’t sleep through his son’s late night cries, you said, “did you try taking a shift? I found that a bouncing walk and the Spider-man theme song works wonders. I bet she’d appreciate the help.” You are proud of your fatherhood, and do not bend to the social pressure that fathers do less. If anything, you do more. I notice. I appreciate it.

Dear Husband, I know that I would love it if you chose to be a full-time dad and stay home with our daughter and take care of our home. It would enable me to focus on my career as a professor more fully. I also realize that you would probably love it if I could stay home and let you focus on your career. The truth is we live in a crazy culture that makes it hard to live on one income, but doesn’t fully support working parents.  It’s been really hard to navigate this, but thank you for doing it with me.

I want to tell you that I value the fact that we have made sacrifices together so that we can both have the careers we want. I’m glad that we decided, as a team, that we’re both going to have careers, because they are important to us. Thank you for never making me feel guilty about our decision. Thank you for occasionally wondering out loud, if it wouldn’t be better if you just quit and stayed home. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who has that thought. Thank you for reminding me that the years of experience we’re putting into our careers now will translate into thousands of dollars in raises and career development by the time our daughter is in school, largely offsetting the cost of childcare.

During the course of our daughter’s life we’ve existed almost entirely in overdrive. We’ve faced breastfeeding challenges (thank you for getting up with me, even though you didn’t have to. In the beginning, that was all that kept me going), sleep training, three childcare providers in one year (one which was a total fiasco), and struggles and strains at each of our workplaces. We both used up all our sick time trading off days when our daughter was too sick to go to daycare.  Our evolution from couple to parents hasn’t always been easy or perfect, but we’ve always been there for each other. Our daughter is so blessed to have two fully-committed parents.

We are there for each other in every way possible. You held my hand before my surgery. I make sure to give you enough time to complete your classwork so you can complete your college degree. You get up with our early-bird so I can get a few hours of sleep. I encouraged you to take a job that would better satisfy your career goal. You made sure I ate well and had enough to drink when I was breastfeeding so I could focus on that challenge. We constantly engage in rituals of support and encouragement, and I know that I never feel like I have to take care of you, as if you were another child or dependent. And when I was recovering, and needed help, you did take care of me, our daughter, and the house, and I am so grateful.

I know that we’re both committed to making our marriage work and raising our daughter together. Your constant support and encouragement shouldn’t be a radical act, but I’m reminded, again and again, that it is. You are an amazing father. You are an amazing man. Thank you again for not waiting for me. Thank you for parenting with me

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