I hadn't known him long when I had the chance to observe him interacting with his little cousins and my little brothers, and I knew that someday he would be an incredible dad. What I never expected was how his becoming a dad would make me love him so much more. From the first day we welcomed Big Brother into the world I was amazed at how much watching him love our son impacted my feelings for him. From observing his enchantment and pride in our new, little guy to watching him change the first diaper, I knew I loved him more that day.
These feelings changed and intensified as I watched him grow as a father as Big Brother grew. Together we learned how to care and adapt for each new stage, how to communicate about our parenting, how to set clear guidelines and tones we both agreed on, and how to foster fun and love between all three of us. As we entered the crazy chaos of toddlerhood I would have moments when I would observe him and Big Brother together and my heart would swell. Simple moments of listening to them read together, or his off key singing while giving a bath, or the two of them "working" together outside, these are moments that make me love him more.
This spring when Little Brother entered our family, I knew that I would get to witness more acts of fatherhood and I knew it would only add more layers to these emotions.
Of course parenthood isn't always perfect. Sometimes we both get frustrated, sometimes we disagree on the right parenting action to take. Sometimes Big Brother pushes buttons until he gets reactions. Sometimes I watch my husband have to visibly refocus his strategies and energies. Sometimes I'm a a little too flexible, sometimes he's a little too rigid. And sometimes it's the opposite. Sometimes we miscommunicate and there are misunderstandings. But always we fall back on the foundation of communication and trust we've built together; we take a breath, we have a laugh, and we carry on.
Although we have many common interests and beliefs, another strong element of our parenting teamwork is that we don't always approach things the same way. He is the silly and sometimes rowdy. I am the calm and focus. I am the think and talk about it, he is the experience it. I am the emotional, he is the concrete. I am the create it, he is the play it. We both bring our own interests to the table and we give the boys both exposures. And along the way we teach each other too.
I was reminded of the importance of that today as we celebrated Father's Day. I like big celebrations, and tend to want things to be more of a creation and show. My husband likes things simpler and less planned. On Mother's Day I requested dinner out, and was delighted when our three year old encouraged us all to dress up, tie included. Our dinner involved some of the best Chinese around and ended with gelato from a new, upscale dessert shop.
For his Father's Day activity my husband requested a hike in our local state park with hot dogs. We raided our fridge for some dogs, veggie snacks, and drinks. We packed his "trapping basket" with the needed items, made a quick stop at the local store for chips and marshmallows, and all (dog included) headed into the woods.
And just as we had a great time on Mother's Day, we had a terrific afternoon today. We hiked in the fresh air, cooked hot dogs and s'mores over a small fire, found wild strawberries, climbed trees, and relaxed in the quiet of the woods.
And while we were there, I took a moment to think about not only how much I love my husband for himself and as the father of my boys but also to reflect on the journey we've had so far . . . and the rest of it that is still to come.