With Mother’s Day around the corner, I am full to the brim with love and tears, thinking of the humans who made me a mama. My firstborn, my sweet girl, of course gets this credit. She shares it with my second born, who completed me in an unparalleled way. I also think of my own mama, whose memory I use as a map to fun and loving parenting. And my husband: without whom I would be lost in all ways (and our kids would be only half as funny and good-looking). I still cannot believe my good fortune to be on this wild ride with him.
I fell in love with my husband days after we met, on a summer afternoon while I sat on the sunny floor of his living room listening as he played guitar. It soon became our living room floor, where we would sit and roll a plush ball back and forth for our baby puppy Penny (before she ate every plush toy). We sat on this living room floor the day after our wedding opening presents, reading the guest book, and eating red velvet cake. We relaxed there into marriage without missing a beat. Our first baby learned to roll on this living room floor, and filled the small house with bells of baby laughter. I fell in love with my husband in that first house, in those first days, and many times since.
Parenting with this man has only made me love him more. We joke that he has a comparatively small part in the making of humans business. I do the heavy lifting of growing and birthing them; I stay home to spend every minute screwing them up. But we are incomplete until he walks in the door. He is always willing to take the kids on an adventure to throw rocks in the creek or to the hardware store for their help repairing the things they break. He stays patient through meltdowns, hour-long stories told by a 3 year old, and never-ending requests for one more bedtime book. Somehow he still manages to still give me a smile, a compliment, and a whole lot of love. When the kids scream through the 4 pm witching hour, I know once the house is quiet we will work towards our mutual evening goals: coziness, TV, chitchat, and dessert. Together.
My husband is fiercely practical. He plans for our future, never leaves a bill unpaid, and never buys something he cannot make himself. I can be practical too: I meal plan, bargain hunt and happily go without. But the nitty gritty of our family existence, the detailed decisions and tough choices – he shoulders almost all of them. It creates a space in my mental load that lets me focus on nurturing. I have extra brain power to stress over potty training and choosing schools, since he is stressing over how to replace the front fence before it falls apart (hint: he will rebuild it with his own manly hands).
In his eyes, I am a good mother, even when my eyes tell me a different story. Because he believes in me, I believe in myself. 90% of the time, on parenting decisions at least, he (stubbornly) defaults to what I say. It was this way from the beginning, when he supported my birth plan and nursery colors. It is even more now, when I change my mind daily about whether the kids should bathe separately or together and I have a new behavior strategy to try once a week. He gets right on board with whatever I say the family needs. It makes me trust my decisions and have conviction in my methods.
We are highly imperfect, just like everyone anywhere ever. Not every day is a sunny afternoon relaxing on the living room floor; not every evening is filled with glowing adoration for each other. Sometimes we forget to see things from each other’s perspective, or get too tired to be kind enough to one another. He wishes I liked camping. I wish he liked sushi. That is the ebb though, and it is far less frequent than the flow.
I look forward to being celebrated by my family on Sunday. But before the day focuses on me, I have to give my husband a nod of thanks for making me a better mother every day. I would not want to do any of this without knowing I will have him by my side until and after the baby birds leave our nest.