We did it. We’ve been parents for a year. I’m exhausted, but you seem to have boundless energy.
I remember the early days, watching you look at her like you’d never seen anything so magnificent. You weren’t sure if you’d connect right away — you didn’t feel her every movement or share every meal together — but when you held her, it was instant. You told me you never knew you could love something so much and in those early days, I didn’t feel jealous, I knew.
When we brought her home, you would sit and stare at her, just sit and stare. Can you believe we made this? You’d say. She’s so perfect. I’d nod, I know.
Before she was born you’d tell me, kids are made out of rubber wait until you see. I would tell you no, that ours was fragile and we only get one chance.
After she was born, I’d tell you she was fine but you would peak over her bassinet yourself, just to make sure. Though you’d buy us generic vegetables at the grocery store because it was cheaper, you declared she would only eat organic (and so would I while she was in my belly).
Those sleepless nights were hard on me, I didn’t want to wake you because you had to work the next day, but you insisted. I’d wake up dark-eyed and moody the next day but you’d be sitting there playing her the guitar before you went to work. You were never in a mood, not once, and I still am.
After the bliss of the new baby, my mood became sad. I watched you with her — the joy emanated from every single part of you. The love you had for her showed on your face, in your eyes and cheeks — I felt like a fraud. I felt exhaustion and numbness. I felt love deep down inside of me but the love I could see you feel, I could not feel. So I watched you, I watched what you felt and how you looked and I tried to feel and look that way with her too. On my hardest days you gave her what I couldn’t and you didn’t even know it. I didn’t even know it.
The jealousy I had for the feelings that you felt often took over. I tried to show you I was a good mom by commenting when you were with her, she’ll be cold in that. Don’t be so rough with her. It’s bed time we need to be calming.
You let me say it because I needed to, but you didn’t listen. I’m glad you didn’t listen, I’m glad you don’t listen.
Sometimes when you’re putting her to bed, I leave the baby monitor on just so I can listen. I hear her squealing and I hear you making weird noises. I hear her babbling back to you. I hear you reading her stories in silly voices and exaggerated tones. The tired mom in me thinks to myself, you’re never going to get her to sleep like that. But I don’t go in the room. I don’t say it out loud. I let it be.
All the time I was instructing you — or all the time I am instructing you (I know, I know, I’m trying not to) — was because I was learning from you, just as she was. I still have my hard days though they’re not as frequent but at the end of those days you come home, bursting with new love for our daughter. Bursting with the energy that I’ve used up. You fly her around like a plane and bounce her on your shoulders. You hold her upside down and bang on her toy instruments as loud as you can. As much as I want quiet sometimes, I need the loud. I need you loud. I need you energetic. I need you here to do this thing with me.
Our girl is in a mommy phase but the way she looks at you is a way a daughter could only look at her daddy. I’m telling you now what I don’t tell you enough, we see you. We see you, everything you do for her, for us. I see you teaching her how to be free, but more importantly you have taught me.