Tayler and I were building up towers of stacking cups in the playroom when I heard him moving around upstairs. I thought that he was surely just using the restroom and getting back in bed. It was too early. My husband, Matt, was on a night shift rotation at the time, and he didn’t crawl into bed till nearly 3:30 a.m. I was downstairs silently giving him a tongue lashing, “You better not come down here yet. It’s only 8:30! You need sleep, too! REST!”. A few minutes later, there he was. Groggy and half asleep, but with a small crooked smile on his face at the sight of our daughter squealing and running around at the sight of him. She was why he came down.
“Baaaabe! Why are you up already?! You’re exhausted!”.
“I have to head in to work a little early today, and I didn’t want to miss out on that time with her. I just want to be with my girls”.
Oh. How could I possibly fight that?
For the rest of the day that image of a hard working, sleep deprived, “I just want to be around my daughter” father stayed with me. It was one of those days the gratitude in my heart for this man, my husband, spilled over the brim.
Since that day I’ve thought a lot about how today’s dads don’t have nearly the amount of support us moms do. Matt doesn’t have a rock solid community of other dads to go to for advice, a quick vent session, or a simple “I hear you – I’ve been there, too”. No one asks the dad how its going balancing work and family life. They don’t have the online resources, blogs to relate to, or check-in’s from friends and family simply asking how life as a dad is going for them. They don’t get the level of encouragement us moms often do. The kind words that reaffirm we’re doing a great job at this monumental task of parenting little humans. I spend much time and energy every day trying to build up other moms and reassure them they have someone in their corner, but I overlook all too often the man who I share my home with and raise my family with.
Yet here he was… still kicking ass in his role as father.
I recently read an article written by a dad that talked about his frustration with being complimented at how amazing of a father he was when he was doing the simplest of things with his children. Taking them to the grocery store by himself, changing diapers without being told, or getting up in the middle of the night for feedings. To him, those were his normal duties as dad… nothing above and beyond. Nothing spectacular or particularly noteworthy. To be complimented at the highest level for doing those things seemed insulting, like it put down what should be expected of dads today. While I think Matt could’ve easily been the author of that article and I fully understand and appreciate the author’s argument, I still feel our cut-above-the-rest dads deserve more praise for doing one hell of a job. While we consciously make an effort in our marriage to continually voice and show our appreciation for things we do for our family, there’s a lot I’ve been meaning to tell Matt.
I’ve written about my mom, my mother-in-law, my daughter, my unborn son, and my Momtourage. But I’ve yet to write about my sidekick, my baby daddy, my best bud, and my partner I’ve created this beautiful little life with. Today is his 30th birthday, and I can think of no better time to tell him how wonderful he is in this role as dad, and how I will always continue to be his biggest cheerleader.
I remember how frustrated you used to get at times when I was exclusively breastfeeding. You understood and appreciated this gift we wanted to give our daughter, but you so desperately wanted to have a more active role. You wanted to give her everything she could possibly need. Your desire to be so involved from the very beginning illustrated just the kind of father you would become. You have been a natural from the start.
I adore the fact that you are trying to create special times and memories for just you and Tayler to share. You want her to look back one day, and have those special places, activities, and items that scream, “THIS is my dad”. The Giving Tree will surely hold a special place in her heart.
I admire your effortless ability to know when and how to teach her new things. Things that I myself, even after spending all day every day with her, don’t realize she’s ready for. She is a nose blowing, tooth brushing, hair washing, stair descending, fork wielding maniac… because of you.
I respect how diligent you’ve become in problem solving when new stages and phases pop up. You don’t always look to me for answers, you read and dig and find them on your own. You use trial and error, come back to the drawing board, and try again when needed. Many times you know when we need to change our approach and stay flexible, while I’m still comfortable and set in our current ways.
I revere your unwavering desire to always want to be around our daughter. When you’re dog tired, you’re still present. When she’s at grandma’s for a night, your heart aches. And when given the choice to sleep upstairs quietly or nap on the couch with guaranteed interruptions… you choose the couch just so you can be near her. Space and time away from her at times is healthy for everyone involved, but there is no calming that pang in your heart to be close to her.
I hold dear how much pride you take in being the one to provide for our daughter in all forms of the word. You work hard every single day to ensure she has everything she could possibly need. After months of me nursing her to sleep, she had a hard transition allowing anyone else to rock her to sleep. I will never forget the first night you were able to successfully put her down for the night without a fuss. The emotion on your face when you left her room said more than any words ever could.
I find an all consuming joy in watching you play uninhibitedly with her. You are on her level, as silly as can be, and absolutely shameless when it comes to making her laugh. Her happiness and smile are the motors that keep your heart running.
I feel so grateful for your attitude on the kind of role a dad should have in the home. Anything I do, you want to do, too. The 1950’s are long gone, and so are those divisions of labor. You have a hand in everything, which makes my life as wife and mom that much more enjoyable. You are one diaper changing, bath giving, night time rocking, dinner slaying, carpet cleaning, and clothes washing son of a B. You are the epitome of a MAN.
I am so appreciative for how conscious you are of making sure we stay a team. You go out of your way to make sure we’re on the same page, working towards the same goals, and following through on our plans to get there. Our children will only benefit from how hard you work at ensuring we are always presenting a united front. Together.
I feel so thankful for how you’ve always gone out of your way to build me up as a new mom. You brush off my shoulders when I make mistakes and offer both hands to pick me back up. You praise me and vocalize how wonderful of a job you think I’m doing. You’ve got a keen sense for knowing when I really need to hear it. You support, support, support, and step up when you know I need a break. You take such incredible care of me, which allows me to take the utmost care for our daughter. Tayler thanks you for that.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching you grow from boy, to man, to husband, to dad over our 12+ years together. And soon, our little family of three will become a family of four. I can think of no better husband to share this journey with, and no better father to grow our family with. While I may not say it quite as much as I should, please know that I think the world and the moon and stars of you. You’re not perfect, I’m not perfect, and despite those times she does really sweet shit, neither is our daughter. Together, however, we make one incredible little team, with you at the center of it.
Happy birthday, love.
Your mother would be so proud of you.
Cheers to 30 more years.
We love you!
(And to answer the question a lot of you women are thinking: yes, he has a brother. But no, he’s not available. 😉