About a year ago, Michael and I had a long conversation with our oldest child. We shared the things we saw in each other when we met, the things we found attractive as we dated for four years. This was part of a “we think you should” lecture that I’ll leave for retelling at another time, but the main focus what what we looked for in our soul mate.
Even as a young adult, Michael had a calm, caring nature with children. I was a nanny/babysitter to around 6 families when Michael and I met. It was actually one of those families that introduced us. At the time, they had 5 children, which included two sets of twins. I would be given the keys to the minivan for summer day activities for three days a week and I worked in the husband’s car body shop the other two days. Michael also worked at the body shop.
He’d frequently see me toting the children around, and if you think about it’s ironic we met while I was caring for five children and we have five children now… After we began dating, he’d join me for evening sitting times, and would help me get everyone to bed before settling in to watch a movie. Our second date actually ended at this family’s home (I was staying with them for a few days while my parents were out of town) with a toddler at our feet. Why the baby was with us at such a late hour, I don’t recall, but nonetheless, he was there.
So, our relationship began surrounded by children, which gave me plenty of opportunities to see how Michael might be as a father. Of course, having your own newborn is a different story. Your own newborn is frightening. It’s tiny body and inability to tell you what (s)he needs is unsettling for a new parent. Michael was not immune and I remember him looking scared when he was handed Allen for the first time. He wasn’t sure what to do and on our second night home as a family of three, I found him in a pitch black living room tripping over baby items on the floor trying to comfort a whimpering infant. I asked what he was doing and he said with a frustrated tone, “I’m trying to get him to go back to sleep.” When I asked why the room was dark, he responded that it needed to be, right? I laughed and turned on a lamp. My sweet husband was trying desperately to apply what he knew to an area he’d never experienced.
About a week later, I knew I had nothing to worry about when I found him peeing with our infant swaddled in a blanket and cradled in one arm. I even remember what he was wearing and what the bathroom looked like. It was one of those heavenly moments where the seas part and the path is put right in front of you. My hero!
Michael was a devoted dad to Allen. We alternated our time out of the home for school and work, so Allen was always with one of us. When he was old enough, Michael put him ina backpack carrier and would cut the grass or work on his truck. You could probably say Allen grew up in that backpack carried by his dad, for two glorious years.
When Emma came along, Michael was underway for three months. He was able to be with us for the birth and about two weeks afterwards, thankfully, but we he came back home, Emma had a rough time accepting him. It was rocky for a few weeks, but then the two of them fell into a beautiful relationship. And apparently had rituals that I wasn’t aware of initially.
Emma was around 15 months old when we went for a ride into town as family in Michael’s truck. I climbed in after he had the kids settled and as he drove, I turned around to check on them. I found Emma, my baby, with chipmunk cheeks filled with SweetTarts. My baby. With serious choking hazards filling her mouth and drool running down her chin. To say I became upset is an understatement.
Michael was astonished I was reacting so extremely and said, “What is the matter? I always let her get SweetTarts when we go to the store! She’s been eating them for months!” For months? No wonder she would have her shoes on before he did when he was going somewhere! And how wonderful they had established this as part of their father-daughter relationship. Without my help. My hero!
He was my hero again about two weeks after bringing Jessi home. She would scream whenever he entered the room, much less did anything related to her, which meant I was doing everything for her including rocking her to sleep. He said he would be the one rocking her to sleep that night and he gently picked her up and together they sat in his big blue chair. Imagine a toddler screamingat the top of their lungs, a deeply rooted fear scream, with snot and tears to fill a pool. Now multiply that by 100. I begged for him to just let me rock her to stop the noise, but he calmly told me, “If she’s going to be in this family and I’m going to be her dad, she has to get used to me. Go take a long walk and she’ll be asleep when you get home.”
He displayed the same patience and perception on our first outing with the twins. Michael was my hero who peacefully told me it would be OK. That it would be better when we flew home. Turns out it was just the beginning of the twin roller coaster, but his words and his stamina were enough to give me resolve and help me push on.
This Father’s Day in 2012, I celebrate my husband, Michael, who has proven to be one the of the best fathers a child could ask for. Or a wife and mother for that matter.
Happy Dad’s Day, Honey! We love you!