We all complain about our spouses. It’s just a fact of marriage. And God knows, I’m as guilty as the next person of focusing on my husband’s flaws rather than the millions of gifts he possesses.
But lately, I just can’t help but explode with gratitude for this man with whom I’ve chosen to spend my life. I watch him right now, pushing the lawnmower on a crisp, fall morning wearing basketball shorts and a hoodie pulled up over his head, while my daughter sits in a chair by the dining room window waving to him and singing, Daddy, Daddy to herself. I smile each time he charges back up toward the house, making a grid in the grass, as she says, Daddy hold you, Daddy hold you, and waits patiently for him to come in and do just that. Because he will.
I think about Friday night, when I thought (thank God!) that I was finally going into labor with my second child and we went out for our own version of The Last Supper (PS, I’m still pregnant a day past my due date as of this writing–ugh!). I pinch myself when I picture my daughter eating his sushi tempura while he ate her cheese quesadilla instead, and the two of them danced together by the front door of the restaurant as I took twenty minutes to lift my pregnant self from the chair.
This man is an awesome dad. And I say this not because my brain is a soup of pregnancy hormones right now, but because it is the honest truth. And to top it off, he’s a pretty damn good husband too.
It occurred to me last night while I tossed and turned in the bed that there could very well be some sociological explanation for how well suited he is for these jobs. I’ve heard a lot lately about “the millennial man” and I do think there is something in the air that has pushed modern men to play more domesticated roles, but I think in my husband’s case, he is such an amazing husband and father because he was raised by a single mother.
His father died when he was an infant and his image of what a man was supposed to be was a single woman raising three children alone, while dealing with the sudden and tragic death of her husband. He has no illusions that “men aren’t supposed to cry” or “such and such is women’s work, not men’s” because his male role model cried often and would at once mow the lawn and have dinner ready by six.
I know my husband, his siblings, and his mother wish more than anything that they didn’t grow up without a father and husband, and I know they miss him still. But I think about many (many) of my students who are raised by single parents and the supposed negative psychological and sociological impacts of this experience, and I have to respectfully disagree. I think that strong people who are missing someone so pivotal in their lives often fill that void by becoming more of a whole person than others. I never pushed myself to be both yin and yang, masculine and feminine, because I grew up with clearly defined boundaries about what that entailed. I never needed to be both. But his mother did and what she produced is children who don’t define themselves by those roles.
My husband cooks dinner every night (and he’s a hell of a better cook than me). He cleans most of the time. He cuddles, hugs, and kisses our daughter ceaselessly. Every day between 9 and 10 am, I get a text telling me he loves me. And he also always takes out the trash, mows the lawn, and kills the occasional spider. He is everything to and for us. I wish every woman in the world should be so lucky, and I thank my lucky stars day after day that I am.
Hopefully I will have this baby and not be pregnant for the rest of my life, and when our new baby girl enters this world, God-willing, she and her sister will grow up with a male role model who is both protective and nurturing. A mother could not ask more for her children.