Happy Father's Day! I tried to think of a gift that would compare with what you gave me for Mother's Day, but I didn't come up with much. Yes, this letter is a bit of a cop-out. I can just imagine your response: Yay! A blog post just for me! Yeah, well, I'm gonna do it. (But I will also work on some of those coupons...)
I always knew you'd be a good father, but even so, you have surprised me with just how good you are. I have known uncountable moments when my heart has swelled and thudded at your capacity for love and fatherhood and laughter. Those extra soft looks I see pass from your eyes to Swee'pea are sweeter than I could have imagined. And I felt soft with love, if a bit piqued, on the playground when you were too nervous to let Swee'pea ride in the swing. He'd done it before when you weren't there, but I liked feeling like for once I wasn't the only nervous nellie here.
I love the shock of pride at your skill as the Boogie Hunter and your ability to make me laugh -- both at the same time. Just last night during Swee'pea's bath, when the boogie that had been taunting you all day finally began to descend and you pounced, keen hunter that you are, and when you pulled it free and it was bigger than any you'd ever seen, I loved that you exclaimed, "Ohhhh, that feels so good... and yet so gross!" And I giggled when I had to examine the tissue myself, to see just how big it was with my own eyes, and it was BIG -- and gross!
From the moment Swee'pea was born and you followed him over to the little table where the various medical folks did various things to him, and you cut the excess cord even though when I was pregnant the thought had made us both squeamish, you have been a brilliant father. Even before, when I was nauseous in New Orleans and you kept tramping the streets with your whining hot pregnant wife, not pregnant enough to tell anyone but pregnant enough to suffer, and you never once complained about my whining (yes, you are a very smart man); you just kept looking for some kind of food that would appeal to me. When I was scared in labour and Swee'pea was in distress, and you made a point of putting the carseat back in the backseat, believing we would have a baby to take home soon, and I felt less scared.
After he was born, I loved that you wouldn't sleep until he was in my arms. And then after we were reunited, you took your job as breastfeeding ennabler so seriously (or was it just an opportunity to cop a feel?), keeping Swee'pea awake and helping me with breast compressions when my hand cramped. I love how you took to diaper changes like a pig in shit, and when I could finally struggle out of bed, you were the one who showed me how. I love how there were times during Swee'pea's newborncy when only you could settle him, listening to that cd of drumming.
Two years ago this weekend, we'd known about Swee'pea the zygote for about two weeks. Remember when I showed the faint pink plus sign to you, saying, "I think it's positive," and you replied, "Cool," with a big-ass smile that said giggity giggity, my boys can swim!? I panicked with the irrevocableness of it, the magnitude of that tiny clump of cells (and later I panicked with the fragility and vulnerability of that same clump of cells), and you just took it all in stride.
I remember later in the pregnancy, as my body and that clump of cells swept us towards D day, and I couldn't believe you weren't making any progress on The Expectant Father. I remember writing to my sister in a haze of fury that you weren't reading that damn book. It seemed to me that you were slacking off, that you didn't care, that that book would prepare you for all that was to come and you were choosing not to prepare. You never did finish it, but I did, and I think we can both agree it was a lame book. Now I realize how silly I was to think that book, or any book, could prepare either of us for what was in store.
It strikes me that back then I thought I would be the confident parent, the one who would just know how to do it, but it is you who has expanded to fit the role and remained stalwart. It's such a cliche, but you have been my rock through the stormy hormones and tidal wave of exhaustion.
A year ago this weekend, Swee'pea was just over four months old, and we'd just bought the crib. I was still valiantly trying to get him to sleep in it, like so many of the books said to, or we would never sleep again. I still hear the echo of the Baby Whisperer's commandments: start as you mean to go on! (or you're doomed). I remember getting angry at you, because you didn't seem to be trying at all, you'd just hold him for all his naps when you were here. I thought that made things worse for me when I was alone, but now, with the benefit of hindsight, I know that it didn't. Within a few months, I learned to enjoy the freedom of those naps when Swee'pea would sleep so well in your arms, and I could do as I pleased, freed from the endless cycle of putting him down and picking him up over and over and over again.
All of this to say thank you. I know I don't say it enough, but I feel like the luckiest mother around to have such a supportive partner as the father of my child. You never complain when I wake you in the night for help with Swee'pea, or just some company for my misery. I love that some nights lately I haven't even woken up if Swee'pea was sleeping in the crib and you were able to settle him without bringing him to bed. You are a good father, and I will try to give some peace and space today in celebration of that fact.
Love Always, Sin
p.s. Even though the endless ChinesePodcasts sometimes get on my nerves, I love that you sing the Mandarin version of Frere Jacques to Swee'pea. So much that I have to go ask you for the literal translation again so I can post it here in this tribute to you.
Two tigers, two tigers running fast, running fast, one has no eyes, one has no ears, How bizarre, how bizarre.