So, you are on a first date. You’ve enjoyed tapas and conversation at a trendy Spanish restaurant downtown. You’ve walked around the Jefferson Memorial in the moonlight and laughed when a dance move almost landed you in the reflecting pond. Your date drives you back to your apartment and then asks if he can come up to your place to show you something. What do you do?
I invited him up. That was seven and a half years ago.
Before you lecture me on the danger of having a man I barely know in my apartment, let me tell you that I was 38, not 18, and so I had enough life experience to tell the bad men from the good ones. Also, my date and I worked together. Had he tried anything inappropriate, he would have been jeopardizing his career. He was definitely not the type to jeopardize anything.
Besides, you won’t believe what he did when we got up to my apartment.
He pulled a CD out of his coat pocket and asked to borrow my computer. We spent the next hour or so looking at the pictures on the CD. They were of his sister and his brother, their families, and his parents.
Then, he kissed me good night and headed out the door. He was leaving for Norway the next morning. He was going there to visit his brother, sister-in-law, and their baby boy. In the three weeks he was gone, I would giggle to myself and think, “He’s over there telling Norwegians that I am going to marry him. I know it.” As it turns out, that is exactly what he was doing!
Upon his return, our relationship progressed rapidly. Within that year, we were married. Within two years, we welcomed our baby girl who was born on his birthday. Then, we had another baby—two years later, but on my birthday. (I’m not kidding. Our little family of four only takes up two calendar squares! How cool is that?)
Sometimes, I look at my husband while he is playing with our children and I think to myself, “My work here is done! I was put on this planet to make this man a daddy!” After all, having a family was his life-long dream and he is a phenomenal father.
I’m always amazed that he can work all day at a demanding job that is so very filled with people and then come home to us—more demanding, needy people. (He is the division chief within a very large, but local quasi-government agency, so he directly and indirectly supervises a lot of people and spends a lot of his work-day on personnel matters. See? Needy people at work and then needy people at home!) He never seems too tired for us. He talks with me about the day, he plays with the kids, and he feeds his mom and readies her for bed.
I don’t know if I have ever seen a son care for his parents as my husband has done this past year. When his mother first fell, he moved into his parents’ house so that he could be closer to the hospital where she was staying and so he could keep an eye on his father whose health had
begun to fail. Even after his mother was released from rehab and a home health aide was with his parents during the day, my husband stayed with them at night.
To this day, he sleeps on the couch most nights so that he can be closer to his mother’s bedroom in case she cries out or attempts to get out of bed at night. That’s devotion.
And his loyalty and service to his parents isn’t the result of having had an easy relationship with them. As in many families, they have had their share of disagreements and personality clashes. MIL didn’t always approve of my husband’s choices in clothing, real estate, or women and she was very vocal about it. If she were still speaking, she would probably tell you how heart-broken she is that he didn’t go to law school and pursue a career as a corporate attorney. (Nevermind that he has two master’s degrees and has a successful career of his own choosing.)
No, he’s a good son because he understands that life isn’t about how other people behave or what happens to you. It’s about how you behave, how you treat others and how you react to what happens. I love that about him.
Happy Father’s Day to my guy and to all the family-men of the world! Thank you for being nothing short of extraordinary.