[Editor's note: While this is one example of one type of relationship, we understand, appreciate and celebrate that relationships come in all forms and configurations.]
When we started dating, my husband threw himself into learning about my Pakistani background. He listened to Urdu audio lessons in the car to learn the language, and kept a handwritten notebook with common words he wanted to memorize. He figured out how to tear small pieces of naan to mop up spicy curries with his hands. He learned how to greet my dozens of aunties and uncles and chit-chat like a pro, remembering their names and details about their kids.
I always knew he was someone who did everything with conviction and enthusiasm, but he took it to another level when we became parents.
One of my fondest memories is from one of our first days as new parents. We were up at 3 a.m. trying feebly to get my daughter back to sleep. I had nursed her for hours and was exhausted, so my husband cradled her in his arms as he rocked from side to side beneath the whirring bathroom fan. His eyes were closed; he was probably half asleep. He was humming an indiscernible tune.
I remember leaning against the bathroom counter, watching him, and thinking, "I can't believe you're this amazing."
It was a seemingly ordinary moment. One in the thousands of moments we've shared together, but it was a quiet glimpse into the depths of my husband's character. Depths that revealed themselves to me layer by layer, one shining trait at a time.
In the weeks and months and years that followed, my husband's whole-hearted approach to life began to crystallize for me. He is—and always has been—a jump-in-with-both-feet kind of guy. It took us becoming parents for me to fully recognize that part of him.
My first daughter and I had a rocky start to breastfeeding, but my husband took on the role of assistant lactation coach quite naturally. He came with me to all my appointments with the lactation specialists at the hospital, paying incredibly close attention to how they got my daughter to latch. He applied the same tricks at home at every feed for weeks, ensuring I wasn't in pain and our baby was getting enough milk. On the days I was ready to throw in the towel, he held me while I sobbed, then cheered me on while I tried again.
If it wasn't for him, I'm pretty sure I would have given up on nursing after a week or two.
His zeal for and commitment to fatherhood didn't stop there. He changed thousands of diapers—and will argue that he changed more "number-twos" so I wouldn't have to. He pureed gallons of baby food, and he built miles of train tracks.
With two girls, he learned to master both ponytails and braids. He figured out how to color-block clothes and create cute matching outfits. Through it all, it's clear that he's not just "helping" me raise the girls. He's fully embraced his role as a father.
He is the kind of man who suggests they bury him up to his neck in sand at the beach.
He's the kind of man who will rake a giant pile of leaves on the lawn and let them roll around in it and spread it all out again.
He's the kind of man who runs alongside them when they bike to the park, holding onto their pink unicorn backpacks.
As time goes on, I learn more and more about the kind of man my husband is. His sock-sliding skills, cartoon character voices, and impromptu storytelling abilities are just a few of the things he's revealed to me this year.
On the bad days, when I'm exhausted and losing my patience, I can count on him to make silly faces and cheer up the two grumpy girls who were reluctant to listen to their mother. On the good days, I can count on him to suggest a mischievous idea for us all to get into together. His ability to fully immerse himself into fatherhood makes me a better mother.
I'm thankful he's my co-parent because his excitement and commitment inspire me too. I'm thankful that parenthood has allowed me to see him clearly and fully. And I'm thankful for the moments still to come—both big and ordinary—that will continue to give me new reasons to fall more deeply in love with the man I married.
[This post was originally published on Apparently]