Raising children is the most joyous and terrifying thing I have ever done. And that is why I’m grateful to share this role with the love of my life, the Carpenter. He is the father all children deserve and the partner I need – loving, patient, goofy, protective, kind. With Father’s Day upon us, this is a good time to thank him for all the ways he has supported me as a mother.
From the minute I uttered the words, “I’m pregnant,” he taught me the art of denying panic by pretending to be elated. He was so good at it, so convincing in his jubilation, I started to believe it too. Fools. When I was the size of a killer whale, and felt sure I was going to birth one, he tried the same trick; elation in the face of intense pain (mine not his). It backfired.
But even in childbirth, the Carpenter taught me that motherhood would come naturally to me. I was surprisingly strong from the start. And by surprisingly, I mean, it turns out I had a death grip and absolutely no concern for his pain tolerance. The lesson? I didn’t know my own strength, but he did. I’m tougher than I look. He reminds me of this often, especially when times are tough. We’re stronger together.
As a stay-at-home parent, he reassured me that coping every day with the monotony of child rearing was good enough, but making dinner was nothing short of miraculous. He learned to thank me for dinners straight out of a box. When the house looked like Toys R Us barfed in our living room, he didn’t judge. He got down on the floor, played with the kids and made the mess bigger. He knew life with me was going to be chaos. He embraced the chaos. He still does.
When illness struck me to the core, threatening the very foundation of our family, he showed me he could do everything I could do as a parent (sometimes better), from the laundry to the carpool, bath time and bedtime. He had life under control while mine was out of control. He taught me that he would never let our family down, ever. And when I woke up to his sweet face, he told me he needed me. They needed me. (He also whispered that Kelly on a morphine drip is terrifying and I should never do drugs. Noted.)
He gave me strength at my weakest point and made me laugh when nothing was funny. We got our miracle. Not everyone does. I don’t take that for granted. He doesn’t take me for granted.
Mothers and fathers do things differently and that’s a good thing. The Carpenter taught me to trust my maternal instincts by never questioning them himself. If I felt there was an issue for one of our kids – a need to change schools, change doctors, a need for advocacy, intervention or a time to back off – he never argued. Mom knew best. He’s never wavered in his belief that I have a sixth-sense he cannot comprehend and it is usually right. We make all decisions as a team, but in the security of our relationship he has taught me what true equality is, what partnership means and to never stop believing in myself. He hasn’t.
Parenting is teamwork and I’m glad the Carpenter tricked me into joining his team (what, you thought I’d leave out a punchline?).
Happy Father’s Day.
And thank you.