I remember the first time my husband and I looked down at our baby daughter. I wish I could say I was filled with a warm and fuzzy wave of love so intense I would have happily drowned in it. But all I felt was fear. Terrifying, flight or fight, fear.
‘We really don’t know what we are doing, do we?’ My husband whispered to me. (Our tiny daughter was awake, but you whisper a lot in those early days because you don’t know what may make them cry.) ‘No bloody idea’ I said quietly, inexplicably feeling like I was about to burst into tears. ‘Don’t worry my love, we’ll figure it out together.’
And that’s my wonderful husband and Father of my two children. Honest and endlessly supportive.
Recollecting the early days of being a Mum, I have a vague, blurred around the edges type of memory you get from extended sleep deprivation. I was at my local post office… and I couldn’t stop crying. Neither could my daughter. In fact, she’d been crying for hours, and I had no idea why. She’d been fed, changed, I’d put clothes on her, off her, picked her up to cuddle her, put her back and given her a dummy. Nothing was working… and neither were my maternal instincts.
I called my husband, hysterical. Now, I don’t do hysterical. I generally don’t do tears either. Instead I rant and swear like a sailor when I’m upset. But this time there were barely coherent, teary hysterics. And yet – he came, despite me being unable to articulate where I was. And through the blurred vision of my tears, I was bundled into the front seat of the car, driven home, put into bed and ordered to sleep. My daughter also stopped crying and slept. Again – my husband was there when I needed him the most.
And he continues to put his family first. Always, and without question. And that includes my welfare.
I get a sleep in every weekend. Every. Weekend. It started when I was doing nightly feeds and my husband would give my son some expressed milk early Saturday morning so I could catch up. A year and a half later and it’s still going. Every Saturday and Sunday morning my kids call for him without a second thought and of course it would be selfish of me to deny them that early morning quality time…
He’s also never once had a problem if I have a girl’s night, or want to have a few moments to myself. Likewise, when I’m unwell, he picks up the care of the children with aplomb and without complaint. In fact, I think the kids prefer it when he’s in charge – Vegemite sandwiches and sausages and cheese and olives (dinner favourites) inevitably appear on the menu. More sugar appears in the meal plans than I’d probably like, but the kids are fed, bathed and happy.
I have to admit I was terrified of having a boy. I come from a family of all girls, and with the exception of my friends’ boys, I didn’t like most little boys I’d met. They were always, and I mean always, sticky, never sat still, couldn’t walk past something or someone without hitting it or poking it… generally, they were always involved in something kinetic, dirty and noisy.
But deep down, more than the mess, I was terrified I couldn’t raise a boy to be the sort of man I’d want him to be. I’d be mortified if I raised a man with the type of personalities I seemed to end up dating. But when my son was born, abruptly, unexpectantly premature, I just had to look up at the man who was cutting my son’s cord and I knew he would ensure our son would grow into a man to be proud of.
My husband’s also a great role model for my daughter – when a boy at kindergarten speaks badly to her I always ask ‘have you ever heard Daddy speak to Mummy that way?’ And when she inevitably replies no, I say ‘because good boys speak to girls nicely and with respect’. I’m not deluding myself that she’ll always follow this advice… after all we all go through a bad boy phase… but I’m hoping she’ll remember it.
Sleep. Time alone. Someone who will pick you and the household up when you can’t (literally and figuratively). These are the blessings you value once you are a Mum. Flowers and chocolates are all very nice, but I can buy those myself. It’s the self-sacrificing gestures which are truly priceless.
And so my husband, my darling husband, thank you for the priceless gift of your love and support. Our children are so blessed to have you as a Daddy. And I am grateful every day to have you by my side and in my heart – always.
Happy Father’s Day. Oxox.
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