WHITNEY: I am glad I'm not doing this alone
She pulls me down the sidewalk, or to the cat perched on the corner of the bed, or to the river’s edge. She grabs my hand and leads us on an adventure, or instructs me to pet the cat “niiiiiice,” or presses a rock into my palm and says “Frow?”
We take adventures together every day, but Olivia and I don’t often get full days together alone. We’re pulled apart by obligations of work and bedtime and chores in between. Sometimes we have just two hours together in a day, one of which might be spent racing the aisles of the grocery store, trying to get the shopping done before one of us starts crying from hunger and so we can make it home with enough time to actually have dinner before one of us falls asleep.
Our weekdays get hectic, but some weekends we are alone together while Dad takes his turn working two 12-hour weekend shifts. Those days, we make French toast, we bumble around the backyard, we go to the park and swing, we nap, we go to a different park and see how far we can throw rocks into the rushing waters of the Muskegon River.
And sometimes, while we’re quietly busy sorting rocks or pointing at birds and dogs along our walks, I wonder if I could do it alone. I’ve decided I could if I had to. I could do specifically this part — the playing, feeding, rocking to sleep at night, calming the odd tantrum — by myself, because women have done it before and I’m not different than other women. In fact, there are probably a lot of women out there who are stronger and more capable than me at child-rearing.
But the part that came 20 months ago — the labor, the first full night of crying and the 60-plus that followed, the children’s wing hospital stays — I could not have done that by myself. Nor would I have wanted to, especially in light of the alternative.
Instead I’m doing all of it, aside from the odd weekend alone, with my husband.
He’s the kind of guy who looks before he leaps and thinks before he speaks. If our daughter starts cussing or getting into the knife drawer, it will never be because he mindlessly modeled those actions in her presence, not anticipating the copy-catting that would soon follow. He’s a teacher of good things, and a hard line in the sand to protect her from bad things, even if she can’t yet understand that.
Things like "leading by example" and "discipline" aren't necessarily my strong suit, but while I work on that, I'm so glad Olivia has a wonderful dad to act as my more reliable counterpart.
My husband and daughter get their own alone time together each day, but I sort of get to watch from the sidelines. Most mornings before nap time comes, my phone is full of little text message updates and pictures that make me so proud of him as the parent he's becoming. It's all awesome, from the overly serious texts saying, "I think we're in immediate need of wipes," to the silly selfies he takes with Olivia, something apparently only he is allowed to do because she cries when I attempt the same.
When your boyfriend becomes your husband, that's a pretty big deal, I guess. But it's one of those journeys that tend to peak with the realization that, while he might make a great Saturday morning breakfast, he's not great at cleaning the bathroom.
Watching your husband become a father, however, is filled with many more highs, and it's the kind of thing that, for me, has really reinforced that I've chose the right person. I'm glad I don't have to do any of this without him.
Happy Father's Day, Buff!