I always had this image of what marriage would look like in my mind.
I pictured late-night ice cream sessions in bed, whole days dedicated to being unclad, and weekends browsing quaint antique shops while holding hands.
Fast forward into a marriage that began when I was 21 and 5 months pregnant and our relationship has taken on a drastically different picture. The only time I’m unclad for any lengthy amount of time is at the end of my pregnancies, when literally no clothes fit me and all my quaint home décor shopping takes place online where I don’t have to wrangle the madness of a toddler in a confined space in direct reach of breakable items.
Luckily (or unluckily, whatever way you want to look at it), the late-night ice cream sessions have withstood the test of time, but in short, my marriage has looked nothing like I pictured it.
And that’s largely due to the fact that for us, marriage and parenting came hand in hand.
So while I had a lot to learn about marriage, I can honestly say that I didn’t expect that watching my husband become a father would be part of the moment that I would fall in love with him all over again.
I was prepared to look towards my husband differently as we aged and grew.
I was prepared to let the lovey-dovey days fade into a more comfortable love, like my favorite pair of yoga pants.
I was even prepared for the days that we wouldn’t be able to stand each other, my 1,001 flaws spilled out in the open, raw wounds that I would stitch up over and over again.
But what I wasn’t prepared for was the first time I watched my husband hold our baby girl.
I knew, theoretically, of course, that he would be there; I must have even fathomed that he would want to hold her once in a while. And yet, somehow, when I saw him, holding our daughter, freshly born from my still-sore body, a new love swelled inside of me. That kind of love, that innate knowledge that he would do anything to protect us, the realization that this is it, for life, shocked me to my core.
And now, in the everyday minutiae of life, in the laundry folding and the burger flipping and the bedtime stories, it’s easy to forget that shock of love. It’s easy to fall into the harried stereotypes of the harried mother, the grumpy wife, the don’t-touch-me-tonight lover, but when I really stop and think about it …
When I pause and listen to the sound of our children giggling as he roars like a dinosaur and chases them around the house before bedtime …
When I watch him scoop all three of them up in his arms and clamor up the stairs, those very biceps that I once admired in high school now straining under the weight of what our love has created …
When I will once again be witness to the first meeting of father and daughter come August when I will (hopefully) not be pregnant anymore …
I realize that the shock is still there.
And the shock of watching my husband become a father to our children?
Well, it is perhaps the very best thing to ever happen to our marriage.