I have fallen deeply in love twice in my life.
So, I consider myself a lucky man.
The first time was with my wife, almost eight years ago. The second time was in January, 2009, on the day my daughter was born.
There are few things as grand as being able to share your life with another person who you really truly care about. Many of us take it for granted, if not all the time, well then, at least part of the time, I’d say.
We lose track of our fortunes on a regular basis, choosing instead to concentrate on what we don’t have or what we lost somewhere along the way.
Yet the truth is, we’re usually a whole lot better off than we realize.
Being able to watch my daughter grow up has been one of the greatest things I have ever experienced. And being able to do that in the company of the woman I love, a strong idealistic person with a lot of heart and soul, has made the experience of raising a little girl that much richer for me.
For the most part, very few of us knew our spouses when they were children, so there is an air of constant mystery that surrounds the question: is my child just like her mama was when she was young? I consistently find myself wondering that.
I like that in some ways, being around my daughter is probably a lot like being around my wife when she was one and two and three years old.
But, the very best part of all of this is knowing that every single day, every few moments, my ‘baby girl’ is learning things from her mommy and emulating her and imitating her in a million different ways.
As a father, that gives me a boundless sense of satisfaction. Knowing that there is a very likely chance that my daughter will absorb and carry many of my wife’s best qualities gives me real confidence in her ultra-bright future.
And as far as I know, that is probably the greatest gift of all.
Patience 1 of 10When it comes to being a mom, I am constantly amazed at the patience my wife has. She is largely unflappable, even in the midst of toddler tantrums or full-on Mach 10 baby meltdowns. Me, I do my best, but there have been many occasions when I have had to realize that my own reaction to some basic kid insanity is actually crazier than what the kid is doing! Not so with my wife. She always manages to take a deep breath and calmly talk our daughter down from whatever tree she has climbed up in. And I love that and respect it immensely. So, I really hope Violet takes after mom on this one!
Being Active 2 of 10Now, I'm not going to lie here. There have been days when I have watched my wife veg out with the best of them. She can curl up on a couch with some gossip mags and a plate of nachos and a reality show in her pj's as if the world was ending and what else is there? Yet, day-in and day-out, she is really active with the kids. Long walks, visits to the park, swimming in the yard, or just sitting down on the floor for a good storybook session, Monica is not one to simply turn on the TV for our children and just walk away. I think this will be something that really really makes Violet a better, more active person in the long run.
Conversation 3 of 10Monica and I both talk a lot about how many people we know who are big big talkers and yet, they never bother to ask you one question about yourself. It's all 'me,me,me'. It's probably our biggest mutual turn-off and it seems to be an epidemic for a lot of people. So, it makes me super thrilled every day, a thousand times a day, to hear Violet's mama asking her loads of questions about how pre-school was or if she likes the taste of her carrots or what she thinks of the cat playing with a dead mouse in the front yard (btw: she thinks it's 'cool!') If Violet takes after her mom in the art of conversation, she will be a person people love to speak with. And that, in my mind, is a rare and valuable thing.
Understanding 4 of 10We do a lot of soul-searching around our place. Like a lot of parents, we have been faced with life difficulties along the way, from both within and outside our home. So one thing we are pretty good at is sitting together and talking about whatever it is that has hit the fan, so to speak. It excites me then, to know that Monica takes the same approach with Violet as she does with me, casually engaging her in discussion when there seems to be a problem. My daughter doesn't even realize it's happening, of course, and that's the beauty of it. Mom is top-notch at just patiently listening to her little girl cry through whatever might be torturing her tiny soul until she is good and ready to speak about it and make it better with her best friend's help. I feel as if this will undoubtedly help Violet as she gets older and needs to contemplate a lot of life's curve-balls; both on her own and with the people close to her.
Affection 5 of 10This may seem like an obvious one, but really it's something to be thankful for. Monica is super loving on our kids, kissing and hugging and holding them enough each and every day so that they know deep down inside that they are so loved. Sadly, this isn't always the case with parents and their kids. Some folks were raised without that sort of affection and therefore it doesn't come naturally to them at all. I'm glad we are different than that, and I hope Violet grows up to be the same way. It isn't about spoiling your kid, it's about showing them they can trust you and know that you are there for them. I consider this to be a monumental quality in a parent and my wife's got it.
An Open Mind 6 of 10I have never in my life met someone as open-minded as my wife. Her ability to see people for what they are is pretty astounding. None of us is ever perfect, me included, and our own emotions or tempers sometimes get the better of us, but I can honestly say that Violet is growing up in the presence of a woman who has no place at all in her heart or her life for hate, persecution, or judgement against others for their lifestyle or skin-color. I thank my lucky stars everyday that THIS is the person and the mommy that my daughter is learning the ways of love from.
Laughter 7 of 10Laughing with your kids is paramount. Yeah, we all are decades removed from the simpler things that typically bring toddlers joy, but the very best parents realize early on that, if they can commit themselves to trying to see the comedy or the thrill in the things that entertain their kiddos, they will be that much better at raising them. So, watching Monica get excited right along with Violet when they are reading a story or watching a cartoon or chuckling at her little brother's antics convinces me that our daughter will someday be all grown up and still feel comfortable cracking up right alongside mom and dad. And I like that notion a lot.
Passion 8 of 10If there is one thing that I think makes life worth living, it has got to be passion. A passion for the things that interest you; a passion to learn more about the world around us; the passions that drive us to work hard to achieve our little something in this world; those are traits that define the best and brightest in our world. My wife has it, too. Her passions range from writing and photography to music and books and I cannot understate how vital and important that has been to our relationship. Violet doesn't ever have to ever share the exact same passions as her mom, but just bearing witness to the fact that her mama is always chasing some interest or idea is one of the best things this dad could hope for.
Resilience 9 of 10Both Monica and I have been through the proverbial ringer in our lives. Like a lot of people, we have had our share of trials and tribulations. Yet, I have come to recognize in my wife a woman who is wildly resilient and never ever prone to giving in to dark times. Being that way, in this life, has got to be one of the most valuable characteristics any partner or parent can have. And I hope that as Violet gets older she recognizes that her mama has never been one to quit or give up on anything worth fighting for, for herself or her family.
Love 10 of 10Life, in the end, is whip-fast, ain't it? One day we are standing there in the schoolyard, kicking a ball as far as we can across the blacktop or the green grass of recess, and the next, we are standing on the other side of the fence, watching our very own children do the things we used to do. Becoming a husband and a father has taught me so much about being a man that it sometimes frightens the hell out of me to even ponder what might have been had I not met Monica one particular night many years ago. These days, watching her love on her kids...on OUR kids...it has made me realize that our Violet, growing faster by the day, is one lucky little girl. She is rising up in the shadow of a woman who represents to me all of the qualities of love that I could ever dream of handing to my daughter. And, in that, I find myself giddy at the prospects of the life my little girl will get to continue to live.