When you join your life to someone else’s, you learn all their quirks. As time goes on, both of you grow and influence each other, and new traits emerge. Parenthood is a catalyst for all kinds of transformations.
My husband and I met at eighteen years old. I was drawn to him because he balanced a lot of my seriousness. He was fun and laid back, but he also knew how to get things done. We were both pretty even-tempered and life was simple for the first few years. Something about adding a baby to the mix intensified everything. More passion, more joy, more frustration, more pressure.
As we’ve jumped hurdles and solved puzzles, I’ve seen the young guy I fell in love with become a more complex man in surprising ways.
He’s sillier than I knew. I’ll be honest, I’m not a great playmate for my kids. I can play a game or set up a fun activity or include them in something I’m already doing, but when it comes to just jumping in to what they are already doing and joining their party, I struggle to engage.
My husband, though, seems to be a natural. He can build blocks, legos, jump on the trampoline, throw a ball for an hour, wrestle and dance and get everybody giggling effortlessly. He can play in a blanket fort, do character voices and pretend to be a tickle monster.
Whether he has five minutes or forty five minutes, he can focus totally on just having fun with them and I know it means the world to our little ones.
He’s more responsible. Before kids, when we had to make big life decisions about finances or routes to travel or health issues, we did not take a lot of time to deliberate. We would discuss, maybe ask a couple of people, but then just jump in and hope for the best.
Now I see more research, solicitation for advice and prayers for wisdom. I can see that sense of knowing our decisions affect these little souls and that we are living an example to them shaping all of his reasoning.
He’s stronger than I realized: emotionally and mentally. I first saw this when I was in labor. Even though we took a birth class, I knew nothing could really prepare him for witnessing all the work and intensity of labor in his own wife, so I wondered how he would respond in the moment. He ended up showing great confidence and gave me endless reassurance that he was comfortable with being involved, we were safe, all was well.
He did not shy away from the rawness or vulnerability, he was there in ways that amazed me. During the early months when the sound of an inconsolable baby overshadowed a car ride or a planned dinner, he was definitely challenged to keep his cool. But he persevered.
He says sometimes parenthood provides your highest highs and lowest lows, but the highs are worth it all. As we set boundaries and teach little hearts to be considerate, respectful people, he has the consistency I lack. He keeps their best interests in mind, even when it means tough love.
He’s softer than I realized. There’s nothing like seeing a grown man melt over hugs and snuggles from his child. His laugh has become even more unreserved as he found new joy in our growing family. He verbalizes his love and adoration in new ways. He unashamedly enjoys his children. He allows them into our bed, which I’m pretty sure was not something he originally thought he would want to do.
He chooses time with us over recreation or socializing often, not hesitating to give the “excuse” that we just need family time. Even in a moment of frustration, he professes love and tenderness. He speaks about the future with excitement, planning memory-making opportunities for our kiddos. Everyday he makes the transition back and forth from work mode to family man, willingly serving us in both capacities.
The way he embraces the intimate moments has been an inspiration to all of us and has become the culture of our home.
One thing I’ve learned to appreciate is that we were not made to be parents of little ones only in our oldest years when we have gained life experience and gathered some of this wisdom. Rather they are given to us when we have the vitality to endure the challenges and we learn along the way.
Our babies have become our teachers and I am ever grateful my husband is a willing student.