It's your fatherhood that defines us. If you hadn't been the man and father you have been over the years, we would not be who we are today. And. I. Love. Us.
Just like there are seasons of marriage, there are seasons of fatherhood. You have helped our kids grow to be who they are, transforming them—and us—along the way. And just as their mistakes have been learning opportunities for them, so, too, have they been for us.
We've grown up with our children, and we've grown closer because of them. And you have challenged and prompted me to be a better mother along the way.
From watching you parent our kids, I've learned how to...
...be calm, when the wails of a newborn filled our ears and quickened our hearts. You were the peaceful presence in the nursery; confident and comforting to us all.
...be kind, when the gales of toddlerhood whirled around us, buffeting us with stormy tests of will. Your patience cut through the chaos and created a clear path towards compromise.
...coach, when the tribulations of childhood challenged our children's formative years. You were the voice that guided them and taught them that perseverance would prevail.
...consult, when adolescence and the missteps of teenhood presented more than ample opportunities to trip, you were a constant and stable way for them. Your confidence in them conferred courage as you carefully considered each one's desires, motivations and personality, while quietly guiding them along the proper course.
...collaborate, when the world offers up its opportunities. You conspire with them to reach far, aim big, see where it will all take them—to live their lives.
Parenthood has a way of dunking us on occasion. Even when we think we're drowning, when ages and stages are difficult—raising, teaching, guiding our kids—through it all, you have loved us all.
And it's all perfect, even when it's not. You taught us that.
If someone had told me the day we were married, that who you were then would not last—that you wouldn't be that same exact version of yourself for the rest of our lives—I think I would have worried a bit, and wondered a lot, about what I was in for. I took your hand that day and trusted that you would never let go. No matter what.
And no one could have possibly told me, jumping into this river together, we'd be swallowed up by the current that would deposit us downstream into still and reflective waters—calm in the gorgeous sunshine that warms us now, bringing to light the turns and meanderings of the life we live.
Now, with the beginnings of some silvery greys, each new, sparkly, beautiful strand earned tells the tale of one more victory of the heart—the years' wisdom seen in the crinkles around your eyes and in the salt and pepper of your beard.
Our boys—one on the verge of adulthood, but looking over his shoulder for your watchful eye, and the other squarely in puberty, looking to you as he navigates the changes that form his identity—both have benefitted from your strength. And our big girl getting from you the same strength you've given the boys—knows her worth from the most important man in her life. Watching you deepen your relationships with them has deepened my love for you.
I can't wait for this cycle to start all over again when our kids begin to have their own, to savor each season with you again, for the knowledge of the joys it brings. And I hope for our children the same journey towards each other that we have been so lucky to have.
Over these years I have learned so much more about you—each new season bestowing another layer of wisdom upon you, and another level of appreciation from me. You are not the same person I married. You are better. And you are still the man I love and would do this all over again with.
We were kids, and then we had kids. First, you were my friend, and now you are theirs. From that hot, new hubby full of passion and promise, ideas and energy, to the seasoned, sage, solid soul you are today, dear Husband, you are not the man I married. You are So. Much. More.