For your first Mother's Day, you were seven months pregnant with our first kid. I bought you a bag of Oreos and you said you would love me forever. We laughed and tried to picture what our lives would be like after our daughter was born. We talked about what she would look like. I was positive she would have brown or black hair like everyone in my family. You said when you closed your eyes you could see her face. I tried, but the only face I could see was yours. Turns out I was right. She is you. The funny thing is, we spent so much of those months leading up to the birth thinking about what our daughter would be like that we very rarely took the time to think what we would be like. I obsessed over what it would be like to have someone call me dad, but I never could have predicted in a million years how proud and in awe I would be to witness you becoming a mom.
They say that the change is supposed to happen overnight. A switch flips. And while it is easy enough to put the label on, becoming a parent is not nearly as seamless. It is a process. We struggled. I struggled. There were nights when we got frustrated with the kids, which led to us being frustrated with each other. We joked about how, when a baby is screaming, every conversation -- no matter how menial -- is a fight. We worked our way through nights when our kids were sick with 104-degree fevers. We spent nights in the emergency room. We learned how to get pee out of microfiber couches and waterproof sunscreen out of the carpet. And even though it seems like for the past five years our gaze has been at our knees -- while we kept the kids from falling down the stairs, or taught them which shoe goes on which foot, or showed them how to write the letter A -- I want you to know something that is infinitely important to me.
I see you.
I see the way you look at our kids. I see you step into their rooms every night before we go to bed. I see it when you subtly move a toy out of the way while they are dancing, so they don't trip. I see you check their seat belts three times. You are kind to our children. You surround them with love and opportunity. You never condescend. They can see that. I can see that. You encourage me to be a better father. You don't shut me out from parenting. I feel strong with you. We look at problems together, and together we find our best solution. (Sometimes Google helps... especially with the waterproof sunscreen.)
I didn't know we had this in us. I didn't know you had the capacity to become what you've become. To be clear, I didn't think the opposite. I never thought you weren't capable of being a great mom; it's just that I had no concept of the range and depth to which your love could extend. And honestly, I still don't. Every day is a surprise. Every day I am more and more proud of you. Every day I realize how lucky we are to have you, and that makes every day pretty damn great.
We've still got a long way to go, and we're still becoming the parents we're going to be. I still think a lot about what our kids will look like when they grow up. Sometimes, when we're all sitting in the living room and our son is reading a book while you spin in circles with our daughter, I close my eyes and try to picture them as adults. It doesn't work, of course -- it is hard to pull the future into focus -- but when I open my eyes, I see you, and I know that whatever comes will be what we build together. And together, we can move mountains.
Thank you for being such a wonderful wife/friend/partner/soul mate, and -- today most of all -- thank you for being a mother.
Happy Mother's Day,
John Kinnear writes the parenting blog, Ask Your Dad. You can also find him trying to be funny on Facebook and Twitter.
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