Dear Father of my Children,
A lifetime ago we sat on my bed and spoke about kids. My heart was thumping because we’d only been together for six or so months, but I knew I loved you. You said that you found it difficult to imagine the person you’d spend your life with (um, hello, I was right there) but you’d always found it easy to imagine having children. You were right. It was easy to imagine having children, especially our children who would naturally inherit your height, but my sarcasm, my eyes, but your eyelashes (you lucky bastard). The reality was a tad different. I called you the day after we were told to prepare for our third miscarriage, one twin lost and a heartbeat nowhere near where it should be. I was lying on the couch and afraid to move,‘Are you ok?’ you asked quickly with anxiety cracking your voice. ‘We’re keeping this baby’ I said firmly, on the basis of nothing but hope. And we did.
You held him, wrapped up in a blanket with the rain pouring down the window behind you. He looked so tiny in your arms but when you handed him to me I said ‘Fuck he’s huge!’ You rocked the crap out of fatherhood. We were Team Breastfeed and you only mildly swore when I woke you up to get more cushions so I could change boobs. You baby-wore and could wrap a stretchy like lightning. You held our son and watched terrible, terrible television in the middle of the night so I could grab a few consecutive hours sleep. Mainly, you loved us. Your eyes would light up as you saw us after a long day, sometimes they would dim again as you took in the carnage, but generally you were pretty happy.
The boy became our world, and on his 1st Birthday we decided we needed a bigger world. Which naturally meant another baby. Our daughter arrived in the sun, light streaming through windows and resting on her perfect wrinkled face. She was born pouting, and it’s still her fallback expression.
Again, you loved us. However, things were hard. Too often it was easier to take one child each and go our separate ways than navigate this new family. For the first time we understood that marriages can fail, that loving each other didn’t make us immune to not being happy. So you took a year off. Of course you did, we needed you and you were there, like you’d always promised to be. We lived on fumes and noodles, but I watched you fall in love with your daughter and remembered that you didn’t suck. You’d push the stroller and we’d go find trucks for our children to watch while we drank coffee and discovered we could still make each other laugh.
When we were told our perfect boy was autistic we said ‘Yep, we figured that,’ and bought five of the both kinds of shirt he would wear. But later, I cried. I asked if you had known that he would be autistic, would you have still had children with me? You held my hand and said, clearly and concisely so there was no mistaking it ‘I would have wanted him sooner.’
I watch you sometimes, I’m hoping that’s not creepy but it probably is. I see you with our children and you’re not quite the man I remember falling in love with. This isn’t the life we planned, we have far too many conversations about what to have for dinner and we live in the suburbs. My god, we drive a hybrid. But the man you used to be wouldn’t cope with our life. He wouldn’t wear a toddler on his back to look at video games he has no time to play, and he wouldn’t brush his daughter’s hair every morning and put in the dozens of clips she requests. Most of all, he wouldn’t love me with the same intensity and devotion that you do. But you, the father of my children, you love us wholeheartedly. You see our madness and you meet it with your own, you never flinch at hard days, you might order pizza and put beer in the fridge but you’re there with me, supporting us and loving us the best way you know how. Even when that means dancing to Gangham Style before bed. Every.Freaking.Day. I’m privileged to have fallen in love with you twice, and I’ll keep falling in love with you as many times as it takes. Because we’ve got this.
The Mother of your Children
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