My life, designed by me.
Our son is five and there is something my husband does that still astounds me and sweeps me away with gratitude every time. He parents.
The reason this still takes me by surprise is that I had my first children very young. I had been raised in a very traditional home, where my role as mother and homemaker was a given . There was never any question in my mind as to the direction my relationship would take with regard to the domestic side of things.
We adopted our roles, he would work and mow the lawn and I would homemake and care for our children. It seemed to work so naturally that way that it was never something I thought about. I enjoyed being the one who knew our children best. I was young, a mere 21 years old and not weighed down with worries about the future. I lived in the moment, I didn’t reflect up on things the way I do now. I really had no idea how little he knew about them. The outward appearance demonstrated by the fact that we all lived together disguised the dysfunction that only became evident to me years later. He held them as babies until they cried. He found it amusing to do stupid things to them. He never bathed our children, he changed the odd nappy under sufferance, he really had no interest into the places I took them during the day, he wouldn’t have known what playgroups we even attended or where we went. He never prepared them a meal, he didn’t know their little traits and personalities. He didn’t know their shoes sizes or clothing sizes or anything meaningful about them. He equated fathering with getting their names tattooed on him and telling people he had two boys. In performing any actual fathering as such, he was sorely lacking.
I had thought, in my naiveté of youth; that we were in love and even if that aspect were to falter, I stupidly believed that he was a real man, who would endure the ups and downs of our relationship to ensure his children did not suffer. I always believed that he was going to be the father had built him up in my head to be.
So we arrive here, in the future, in a world that I had never imagined back then. When I met my husband and discovered how much joy there was to be had in a relationship, how proper, respectful love was supposed to work, I was so shocked. It was like I had been a caterpillar lodged in a state of cocooned metamorphosis for years, never able to emerge and spread my beautiful wings, to fly and feel the freedom of existing in my true state. His passionate, nakedly honest wealth of love stripped away my layers of apprehension and taught me how real love and respect is supposed to be.
My husband came to me with two children of his own, virtually the same age as mine. He knew them inside out, their personalities, their quirks, their likes and dislikes. He had beautiful anecdotes from their formative years and had been actively parenting since the moment they were born. It was a rather endearing quality! He was a real man, he took his parenting responsibilities seriously, he enjoyed having such deep and connected relationships with his children. He would help out at his son’s football games, and be there every week without fail. He would take his daughter to dancing. He would take my children to basketball and be scorekeeper if he was asked.
Five and a half years ago we added to our brood with ‘our’ baby, the child that we had both decided we wanted to put the icing on top of our not quite perfect, but definitely flavourful and unique marriage cake.
Do this very day I still watch my husband with our son in awe. It still astounds me how actively involved he is and how naturally parenting comes to him. He knows our son as well as I do. I love the fact that we are interchangeable in our roles, we are both able to offer the same, consistent parenting to our child because we both know him equally as well. He never has to ask me what I would do because he already knows what our son needs. He loves being involved, he wants to go to parent teacher interviews, health appointments. He wants to know our son and wants to parent as fully as he can. He still has beautifully close relationships with his older children who are now adults. He has great relationships with my children, one of whom is also an adult. He has a wonderfully close bond with our son, as do I. We are truly a team when we parent our boy.
He may not realise this, because I rarely tell him, but Steve, I am eternally grateful that you parent. That you are a wonderful dad. You are everything you hope you are to your children and more.