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The Key to Happy Parenting: My Husband (Not Yours, Mine)

Father and daughter

It's hard not to be happy when you get to witness two people so in love with each other every day

My mom and dad have always told me that as a parent, you’re only as happy as your least happy child. It took giving birth to one of my own to realize how very true that is. But what I’ve also picked up along the way is that I’m also only as happy as my husband, Rick. And given that my happiness is more often than not on the bliss end of the spectrum, you do the math.

I have no doubt that if I had to raise my children alone, I could do it, but I just know it wouldn’t be nearly as joyful. There’s something about delighting in watching our daughter grow together, and seeing the happiness she brings to Rick, that makes my heart smile every day.

As someone who grew up with the world’s greatest dad (yes, the greatest in the world, not just in my house), being with a man who I knew would also be the greatest was of paramount importance to me. I spend the majority of the day with our daughter, but Rick is a shining example of how much quality counts over quantity.

The things that have me tearing out my hair at the end of the day (“I don’t like to go potty” and “I don’t like chicken anymore” and “I don’t like kisses” and “Read this book . . . again . . . again . . . again”) have him singing with laughter during their mornings and evenings together. When he’s working late and I’m stuck putting her to bed, it’s one book and done. He, on the other hand, can rock with her for the better part of an hour, indulging in her need to go through the entire Knuffle Bunny trilogy as well as every available Dr. Seuss chapter book (some of them are so long at least they seem like they’re chapter books), and then he’ll get into bed with her and make up another story.

When he rouses her from bed each day and sings good morning to her toes while her legs dangle excitedly from the toilet, I stay in bed and continue to doze to the sounds of their collective giggles. And when he acts as the short order cook and waiter while she makes her breakfast demands, I sigh contentedly knowing I have a few more minutes of freedom. I adore my daughter, but she’s in the throes of her terrible two’s (yes, I know the three’s are rumored to be worse) and more often than not (OK, all the time) these days I’m ready to throw in the towel.

But it’s Rick’s time with her reminds me what it’s all about — love, patience and tenderness. We’re all in this together and despite the fact that whatever hair I have left might turn gray by the end the week, his happiness plus her happiness equal mine.

Image: Meredith Carroll

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