A Letter to My Husband on His First Father’s Day

Dear Husband,

As we celebrate your very first Father's Day, I want to say thank you. A million times over, thank you. People told me that having a baby would show me a new sort of unconditional love, and they were right. But the new, overwhelming kind of love I feel for you is just as special. It's a grateful love, so I want to say thanks.

Thank you for riding the emotional roller coaster with me as we tried to create a family. Thank you for celebrating the highs and grieving the lows, for knowing which moments deserved a special dinner date and when I really just needed you to hold my hand.

Thank you for transforming into the world's kindest, most patient nurse and taking care of me throughout my pregnancy. Thank you for letting me more or less live in bed for an entire month when I felt too sick to stand. Thank you for making me more plain pasta than any human should ever be required to cook, and thank you for letting me take over our Netflix account for months on end. Thank you for putting up with a whole lot of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, and for handing me the box of tissues when I was hormonal and crying through most of the latter.

Thank you for asking me how I felt so often, even when you knew the answer might include a series of complaints. And on that note, thank you for doing the dishes when my back ached and lifting laundry baskets when they got too heavy. Thank you for every grocery pickup, every diaper run, and every checked-off item on our joint to-do list. Thank you for showing you care as often as you say it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for never keeping score.

Thank you for pretending not to be terrified when our baby's delivery didn't go as planned. Thank you for attempting a smile as the room filled up with nurses and doctors and a loud, frightening beeping sound. Thank you for locking eyes with me across the room in a way that said, "I'm scared too, but I'm here, and everything will be OK." Thank you for being the kind of person people believe when you say things will be OK.

Thank you for being the first to say "It's a boy!" and for everything about that surreal, miraculous moment: your one hand in mine, the other cradling him, our watery eyes meeting as our hearts pounded right out of our chests. My love for you grew infinitely in those seconds.

Thank you for going above and beyond in those early weeks and keeping me afloat when we were two terrified, exhausted, ecstatic new parents. Thank you for bouncing our son up and down at 3 in the morning to keep him calm, then doing it again night after night as I pulled the comforter over my head and slept. Thank you for making me laugh when, ohmygod, we really needed it, and bless you (BLESS YOU!) for discovering that Tom Petty on the record player would make our baby stop crying. Also, thank you from the bottom of my heart for finding it entirely acceptable that I lived in pajamas for more than a month.

Thank you for coming home after long, stressful days at work with a smile on your face, immediately lifting our son right out of my arms so that I could take a gloriously hot shower. Thank you for lighting up at the sight of us and for making me feel beautiful when it wasn't so easy.

Thank you for being my rock throughout maternity leave and my lifesaver when I went back into work. Thank you for cleaning bottles while I sent late-night emails, thank you for waking up early to help me get ready, and thank you for listening when it all felt like too much.

Even though our first year as parents hasn't been easy or perfect by any means, thank you for making it all feel more manageable. Sure, sometimes you were forgetful, and sometimes I became a bit of a nag, and sometimes we both thought we might actually lose it. But the joy was always there, filling us up in every moment with our sweet, crazy little boy.

Thank you for becoming the kind of dad I always knew you'd be, equal parts patient and loving and fun. Thank you for developing a true expertise on silly faces and for knowing all the sounds that make our baby laugh so hard he can barely breathe. He doesn't look at you - he glows at you, and watching him fall more in love with you each day is the greatest gift.

I mean it: Thank you so much for being my partner in this wild parenting adventure. As a dad, you are kind and hilarious, centered and unflappable - just as sweet and affectionate and remarkably easygoing as I knew you would be. You make me a better person and a better mom, and although I'm wishing you a very happy Father's Day, I hope I make you feel celebrated every single day. You deserve it.

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