There was that time I was in the hospital for a week before Jack was born. We didn’t know how long I would be there. We kept asking but there were no answers. Visiting hours only went until 8pm but you never left. You schmoozed the nurses so you could stay until I was good and ready to fall asleep alone. You would lay your head on my belly and talk to Jack.
Then there was that time I had a baby and you got wrist surgery 10 days later. We thought, great you’ll be on disability and you can stay home to help with Jack.
Then there was you, in the shower, asking me to wash your hair while I was sitting on the bed in 3 day old sweats that smelled like milk and hair that hadn’t been washed for God knows how long. There was me changing every diaper and getting up for every feed while you laid in bed with that stupid cast.
We would visit with friends and you would complain about being tired. They would ask you how you were doing with your wrist.
I thought I hated you.
I might have.
Parenting is hard.
Partnering while parenting is harder.
I spend an hour vacuuming the bedroom and you come in and take off your socks, leaving black lint all over the carpet. I leave the wet towels hanging on the door handle. We don’t say anything but we hold on to that and have a fight 8 days later about something unrelated but it all comes full circle to the towel and the sock lint.
You work until 6pm every night and get home 45 minutes before Jack goes to bed. I’m exhausted from feeling like I can’t get anything right. I can’t make him happy. The days are full of trying to communicate to a 1 and a half year old that he can’t go outside because it’s pouring rain and no he can’t hit me when he’s frustrated.
“No, you can’t climb on the end tables or the kitchen table.”
‘Fine, you can have another cookie just please stop yelling at me.’
You walk in the door and he’s elated.
We visit with friends and they pity you for your 12 hour work days. They worry that you aren’t getting enough sleep.
I think I hate you.
But you let me hate you and you hold me at night. You reassure me that he prefers you only when you’re giving him what he wants. You never let my resentments crush you. You get it. You’re my partner. You know I’m as tired as you are and that this is a thankless job. You thank me.
So you get up on Saturdays and you take him to the park so I can sleep in. You keep him occupied so I can get some work done. You tell everyone that you couldn’t afford me for the work I do. You get angry for me when people ask me what I do all day.
You’re kind and patient. You’re a happy man and I’m a sad woman and you’ve always known it and you’ve always loved it. You’ve always loved me. You can see the value in whatever it is that I am.
You’re a social butterfly, flapping his wings to the beat of his own drum. I’ve always loved you and I can see the value in whatever it is that you are.
So yes, Happy Father’s Day. You’re killin it. You’re incredible.
But really, today I just love you for being my partner. Your role as a father is truly something and it deserves praise but your role as a partner is invaluable.
It doesn’t feel like these roles we’re supposed to play are so important when we’re all together. We just pick up the slack for each other and I prefer that to The Father role (the provider, the second parent, the babysitter, the incapable caretaker). No thank you.
You understand you’re more than a helper. You understand that parenting is a two man job. Not a one and a half man job.
You’re the bather, the dish washer, the occasional cook (let’s be real we’re both occasional cooks), you’re the bug remover, the bed tucker inner, the comic relief.
I hear you putting Jack to bed at night. I hear you both whispering and giggling. I can hear the smiles in your voices and I think I couldn’t be any happier.
I think, I couldn’t have asked for someone better to partner with. To parent with.
I think I love you.
I just might.