(Adapted from this post here.)
The sighs and cooing of an overtired baby are a constant symphony in our bedroom late at night. I roll over to see my equally-tired hubby rocking my youngest as his lamb-like lowing floats across our king-sized bed. Baby was just asleep; rocked there on the soft lullaby of warm milk and the scent of mommy.
I sigh my own sighs of deep contentment. I look at my husband of just over 8 years and my heart smiles wide. It wasn’t always this way. I remember my husband as a younger man and myself at 22, before we were married and before we were even really a couple. I dropped one of the most difficult bombs imaginable upon the man who was still very much into spending his money on tricking out his Honda Civic and buying the latest fashion in Nike footwear. I remember him struggling to digest information I had just relayed. I was pregnant. I told him I didn’t even want to be with him, but something clicked in him that day; something that I won’t ever really understand. He wanted to take care of me. He wanted to take care of us. After a whirlwind of decisions and counseling from several very wise and important people in our lives, we made a commitment to each other. At seven months’ pregnant, I said yes to his marriage proposal and he’s been taking care of us ever since. My husband has struggled. We both have. He has had to do a complete 180 with his life and he chose to take on that calling. He didn’t have to, but he chose to. At times, things got a little rough. But the most amazing thing about his dedication to our family is that despite the struggles and the difficult times, he has grown. He has blossomed and become a man of strength and character. He has found himself.
When I was pregnant with our first he admitted he had no idea how to be a good dad. You’re writing notes to your unborn child, I thought, you already are a good dad. His fear has continued, even all these years later. Especially lately as we have faced so much and he has had the world’s weight on his shoulders: Five children in 8 years. Losing babies. Losing jobs. Running a business. Making plans for our future. Figuring out and trying to express true, unconditional love to those of us in his keep. But the fact that he even worries about being a good dad is a sure sign that he is in fact a good dad. One of the things I love about my husband is that his thoughts are humble; he expresses his desire and desperation to be the best he can be at this vocation which God has called him to. He takes the responsibility to heart.
All these years later, his worries that he’s still not quite getting it right serve as a reminder to me to be gentle and loving, to encourage him down the road which he finds incredibly scary and frightening. Of course I often do too, but we are in this journey together. Over the years, we have learned much about the art of working together as a team to bring our children up in a good home. Early in our marriage, it was difficult to be selfless; always passing a child to the other one in exasperation and accusation. You never hold her! Why can’t you just take her for once? It was a constant back and forth of who should take what responsibility when. A few years ago I wrote this post on my personal blog about the “parenting dance,” and how one fateful night we were destined to finally get it right, in the midst of several puking children, loads of laundry and the minimizing of our selfishness. I’m blessed to say that even since then, we’ve grown ever-closer and better in-step with each other as the parenting dance has turned into the marathon that raising children together is destined to become for people like us.
It’s times like this night that bind two people together. Having and raising children together has a way of deepening the relationship. A husband and a wife and the middle of the night, tasting the essence of what marriage is, what parenting is. Opening ourselves up to the challenges and changes new life creates. Rocking and sighing and listening — finally — to the rhythmic breathing of a tiny infant sleeping against one’s neck, and the sound of two hearts growing closer. Somehow, in the midst of it all, in the years that pass, as you allow the understanding to seep in, the experience to build, you finally get the inkling that yes, perhaps I am a good parent after all, and a good partner in life. You rise above the human tendencies to do for self, and submit to the call to do for someone else. In this case, not just for a tired mama of five babies, but a son; a young baby who desperately needs to know not just his mama’s scent and strength and love, but his daddy’s as well.
As Father’s Day is just around the corner I want to give a shout-out to all those “desperate daddies” who enter the game not knowing if they’ll be a good father or not. As I have said, the fact that you worry at all about that is definitely a sign that you already are a good one! The world needs more men like you! You are the cornerstone of the family dynamic, and your strength and selflessness, shown over and over again in all its various stages of your role as a father are the invaluable pieces which fit the whole family package the way it naturally was meant to be.
Against the blank canvas of an unknown future, it’s often hard to desire or even imagine a different type of life than the one you’re currently living. Many men these days get stuck in the cycle of fear that often surrounds taking on a huge responsibility, especially one as monumental as having a family. Some will take an out if they see one or are given one. But men, I’ll tell you a little secret: Good women are more apt to seek out men who they can trust to stick around when things get dicey or an unexpected child enters the picture, whether we realize it or not. I promise that if you stick around and really give yourself to your child and family, you will not be disappointed! I also want to say “Thank you” to those men who already have.
Our Selfie Culture What would you think if you found out one of your friends spends five hours a week staring at her face? If you are a woman between the ages of 16 and 25, that friend is probably you. Thank you, selfie culture. Collectively, our selfie culture devotes