Dear Husband,

You and I have grown up together. You were barely 16 when my heart was drawn to yours. I knew you as a boy, carefree and eyes filled with light. I see you now as a man, the weight of responsibility heavy on your shoulders, eyes dimmed with exhaustion. I want to encourage you today. The work you do matters, outside the home yes, but especially here at home.

The work of fatherhood is important work.

I love watching you be a father. I see the way you respond calmly to our children when they argue or when things go awry. You are giving them a shining example of self-control. Because of you, they'll know what it's like to keep a temper in check. Because of you, they will know how to self-regulate and choose a wise response rather than reacting on strong emotions. What a valuable lesson to teach growing boys, and I'm so grateful you are providing that example.

I watch as you play with them. I listen to their giggles as they bounce high or get swung through the air. I watch their smiles as you're constructing Lego sets with them and playing video games together. They soak up your loving attention like a sponge, and it fills them to the brim with joy and love. I'm grateful that you take time for them. I know after a long and stressful day at work, you'd like to unwind and relax, but you know that your real work starts when you walk in the door, and you rise to the challenge. Our boys are learning that family matters and that relationships take top priority because you always make time to bond with them.

I see you with a big kid still sitting on your lap, and it makes my heart swell up with happiness. I'm grateful they have an affectionate father who will hold them and hug them. You are teaching them that love is tangible, not some lofty idea but very real in how we treat one another. Love is felt in Daddy's lap. I am thankful they have in you the example of a gentle, loving man.

They see you grab a basket of laundry and fold it. They see you wipe my tears and hold me close. They see you work hard and put family first. They will know how to be a responsible, loving husband and father because they grew up watching a wonderful example of it every single day. I am happy for them, that they have the gift of you.

Fatherhood is a hard job, and a heart job. It requires strength and gentleness, patience and time. It requires you to elevate the needs of others above your own, and that means jumping on the trampoline after a 12-hour work day with a smile on your face. You are doing it beautifully, and if our boys grow up to be the kind of man their father is, I'll be one proud mother indeed.

With love,

Your Grateful Wife