Our oldest was a “Velcro baby,” meaning she usually cried when we put her down. When she was about 7 days old I rocked her to sleep, put her into the bedside bassinet, and moved away from her very slowly so as not to spook her. Then my sweet husband enters the room, slippers dragging loudly, fixing the bed sheets in violent flings and tugs, and finally plopping into bed like a Saint Bernard. To only his surprise, the baby cried. I hissed something hateful at him and spent the next two hours in the rocking chair.
I knew my husband was about as graceful as an armadillo when I married him. He rarely closed a cabinet without slamming it and had broken brooms, paint brushes, and shovels simply by underestimating his own strength. I used to find the clumsiness charming. Now though, with a baby who would only sleep independently under rare and specific circumstances, I found myself constantly annoyed with him and unable to hide it. He wasn’t doing anything wrong. In fact, he was usually trying to help me. Sometimes it wasn’t even his fault she woke up, but I found myself cursing him under my breath regardless. This is what chronic sleep deprivation and scabbed nipples will do to a person.
Fast forward a few years. Our “Velcro baby” is now an articulate, funny 3 year old. Her little sister actually preferred to sleep independently. Our collective stress level decreased so much so that we felt comfortable taking a weekend away in wine country. We went out one night and planned to watch a movie after at the hotel. We never ordered the movie, but it’s not what you might think. We spent hours looking at pictures and old videos of the kids. We laughed and talked about their amazing qualities and who they might grow to become.
Bringing kids into our relationship magnified our imperfections and character flaws that might have otherwise been happily excused. Most days we’re coworkers more than lovers. Our texts aren’t cute or flirty. They’re often grocery lists or passive aggressive case-making for who is more worthy of “me time.” At the same time, I am able to admire him as a father in ways I never otherwise could have. Watching him make Mickey Mouse pancakes, actively participating in debates about Disney Princesses, tying a ponytail before school pictures. It’s in these moments that I’m able to love and appreciate the way he has embraced his new role so effortlessly.
We had a lot in common when we got married, as many couples do. Now, though, we are inextricably linked by a mutual obsession with a brown-eyed 4 year old and a blue eyed 2 year old. They make us laugh and bring us pride every day. On the days they make one or both of us crazy, we have each other with which to commiserate or proactively problem solve for the next day.