Hey there, husband.

I remember when I first met you, dancing so suavely to “Hot in Herre” by Nelly. We were in a 20-and-under club on “foam night”… we were so cool back then. You lured me in—in just a moment. The way you took my hand and rocked that red backwards Cardinals hat. I was in love.

Twelve years later, we have four babies together.

We have home purchases, parent-teacher conferences, businesses, miscarriages and so much adulting under our belts.

We are actually getting pretty good at this grown-up thing.

I like you even better than I did then, even though you had some pretty sweet subs in your Mazda and were in a band that played at coffee shops. (My parents probably miss hearing your bass from five miles away.) I like you better, because I’ve seen and known more of you now. I now know the part of you that has had to shoulder life, business and family. At times it’s taken everything in you, but you have done it, and we are (all) so very proud of you.

So I want you to know that I cringe when someone congratulates me on getting you to babysit—as though you aren’t also their parent. I cringe, not just for me, but also for you. Your investment into our kids is invaluable, and reducing it to something that a teen could do for some extra frappe money, well, that’s just wrong.

You carry the weight of family, just like I do. You look at our girls and boys while they sleep and pray that they will know how deeply they are loved, and that they will grow up to love others selflessly, just like I did. You pray that they would change the world for good, just like I do. You tuck them in at night and wake up with them to change beds and cuddle with them after a bad dream, just like I do.

You change diapers, you feed bottles. You pace the house with screaming infants, bargaining with God for 15 minutes of sleep.

You are the best at planning adventures and helping our kids try new things like dirt biking and jumping off the dock. You are way better with blood, urgent care, and sitting with them while they get shots than I am, and you make a mean chocolate chip pancake.

Your scrambled eggs are still just the worst, though, so maybe don’t make those anymore.

We are just two parents who relentlessly love our kids. We love them till it hurts. We love them in the way of changing sheets and cleaning up after the incompetent aim of two boys (who shall remain nameless). We love them in the way of midnight cuddles and long conversations about spiders and fairy princesses. We love them in the way of homework (although let’s be honest, you love them more in math than I do). We love them in a way that makes us CRAZY and makes us sane all at one time.

You are no babysitter.

You are one of a kind and you are not replaceable. You are their dad and I am grateful that we are (equal) partners.

Sometimes I get scared and I try and boss you around or tell you that I know best. I’m sorry, because the facts are that you love our kids every bit as much as I do. You value their lives and their destinies with just as much reverence—and just as much wisdom. You know how to feed them, protect them and help them make good choices. Maybe not in the same way that I would, but that’s okay.

You’re not an after-thought, a babysitter, or a part-time coach.

You’re their dad.

Sometimes there is so much work, laundry, and that one kid that only speaks in volume 100… that we don’t really see each other for two or three or seven days. And other times when we are in survival mode; like when we brought home a new baby or when work days turned into work nights… those times of not seeing each other, they are even longer, but when I do pause and take a breath, when I do stop….

I like you better than ever. Fatherhood looks very good on you.

Also, we could probably install subs in our SUV, just saying.

Thank you, husband. You are their father, you are their daddy and you are my friend, my very best friend.

Also, if you ever need me to babysit… jk, jk.