Last week I wrote this post about the long road my husband and I took to be at peace with my decision not to have children. This is the final post in this series about how that all went to poop.
Strike 3 – Realizing that my husband would be the best father ever
There have been many moments over the years when I have realized that N would make an amazing father. Those are usually moments when he is being a wonderful husband because, as far as I understand it, many of the skills are transferable.
While I am a chronic worrier, N is a perpetual optimist. Where I see hopelessness, he sees opportunity. He focuses on solutions, not shame.
For example, when I come home after an especially crappy day at work, maybe after I royally screwed something up and am feeling like the sky is falling, his default posture is one of support and reassurance. When I’m ready to talk about it and ask for help, he stages a strategy session wherein we together form a plan about how to proceed/do better in the future/damage control. When I try to direct the conversation back to what a FUBAR I made of the situation, he is quick to point out that focusing on shame and guilt won’t help anything, and besides, what I did really wasn’t so bad anyway, and he thinks I’m pretty great. In moments like that, I’m grateful not only that this man is my husband, but also that any children we have will get to have him as their father. Lucky little buggers.
From time to time, I get to see N in action being amazing to children. One such day was several years ago at my best friend Layla’s wedding. The whole group of us went up to Lake Michigan for the weekend. Layla had rented a beach house for the bridal party and her family. The entire weekend was from a story book: amazing couple, beautiful bride, perfect weather, great people in attendance. The bride’s parents are missionaries, and her father officiated the ceremony. There was not a dry eye anywhere.
The day after the wedding, we were all enjoying our last couple of hours together and reliving the mental highlight reel of the beautiful weekend. At some point, Layla’s 2-year-old niece managed to climb up onto a bar stool at the kitchen island. No one really noticed her getting up there, but she had our full and undivided attention a few moments later.
The first crash we heard was of the chair hitting the ground. We then the thud of a tiny 2-year-old body doing the same. Then came the screams – first from the child, then from all of us adults. We all ran to the injured girl. Her mother picked her up and tried to comfort her, as did the girl’s grandmother and two aunts. For whatever reason, she was having none of that.
Then, she caught an eyeful of N.
She instantly stopped crying and reached out her pudgy little two-year-old arms towards him. All of the girl’s female relatives stopped what they were doing, and looked to see for whom the child was reaching. Everyone was shocked to see that it was the non-female, non-father, heck – non-family-member N.
The child’s mother handed the enamored girl to N. At first, N was just as shocked as everyone else. He’s your typical alpha-male military type; what did he know about kids? But instantly and instinctively, he began reassuring the hurting girl that everything would be okay.
N knew that this child and her family live in a part of the world where three different langues are spoken, and as luck would have it, he happens to speak all three, so he asked the girl’s mother which language the child prefers. Her mother said they are trying to teach the girl all three, but she’s not especially fluent in any since she’s only 2-years-old.
Without missing a beat, N started singing what sounded to me like lullabys in one language, then another, then English which I totally understood. The child was absolutely delighted by this, and she grabbed two fists full of N’s beard and squealed happily along with his songs.
The rest of us silently watched the two of them. Even I, who had been married to the man for a couple of years by that point was like – who IS this guy!?
Eventually, when N had run through his entire repertoire, and the child seemed to have forgotten all about her injury, N handed her back to her mother.
While this is but one of dozens of heart-melting moments of N with the children in our lives over the past decade, I chose to memorialize this one because it is my favorite. It’s my favorite because it was my first glimpse into the kind of dad N would be.
He’ll meet you where you are, and he’ll leave you better than he found you. That’s one of the reasons why N is an incredible husband, and also one of the top reasons I know would be the best father ever.