Back in our Dual Income, No Kids days, I couldn't imagine what kind of father you would be. I had barely seen you interact with children. In those fleeting moments with my nieces you seemed awkward, aloof, cracking nerdy jokes they were too young to understand.
I wondered if you really liked babies, let alone if you were ready to make one.
You had told me early on, just a few weeks after we met, that you wanted children. You said, "Lots of children,” in fact, because becoming a dad one day was "a great purpose" in life.
I was taken aback, told you that I felt too old to hatch a brood. Can we start with one and play it by ear? I wondered if you really knew how much a child would change your world.
Later, we found ourselves pregnant at (almost) the first try. I was curious and excited to see you in your dad shoes, pictured you with our tiny someone cradled in the crook of your arm.
But I couldn’t predict if you would like being a dad. Would it be a struggle to bond? Would you know what games to play? As it was, we didn’t get the chance to find out.
I wondered if, to you, a child was just a concept, vivid in your mind but not in your heart?
Then, at last, came our rainbow baby, a perfect little girl, with a button nose and almond eyes and palms as soft as marshmallow.
In those first moments holding her, squalling and blanketed, you fell head-over-heels. A daddy was born, as easy and natural as her first breath, and you became more fully you. I should never have doubted.
I don't thank you enough for being the father that you are.
The one who changed every hospital diaper and perfected the art of swaddling while I clung to sleep.
The one who knows a single lullaby and is brave enough to sing it over and over.
The one who paces the floor, rocking, and dancing, massaging and shushing, helping ease those colic pains into the wee small hours.
Our daughter's favorite mountain to climb.
The best running mate a tired mama could ask for.
Fatherhood fits you like a glove, and no one knows it better than our daughter does. Her face lights up when you come home from work. It wasn’t my tickles that first made her giggle, but yours. It’s your hair that is the most fun to pull, you who makes bath time the highlight of the day.
I don't thank you enough for all that you do.
When I nag you that no, her leggings go on OVER her onesie, I should stop and thank you for dressing our baby girl.
When I complain that there’s soapy water all over the floor, I should stop and thank you for bathing her.
When I berate you for a wonky diaper or for too much butt paste, I should stop and thank you for changing her.
When I shout after you to "SLOW DOWN around the corners!" I should stop and thank you for taking her out for a walk.
When I roll my eyes at your age inappropriate History of Transportation book, I should stop and thank you for reading to her.
When I put a pillow over my head and try to pretend it's your turn to get up, I should stop and thank you for all the (many!) times you've comforted her at night.
When I tut that your knees aren't big enough for both a baby and a laptop, I should stop and thank you for spending the first hour of your work day watching our daughter while I slept in.
Most of all, I should thank you that you have made her your greatest priority.
I can't wait to see how you grow, together.