I saw a quote recently (yes, I’ll admit it was on that time-sucking site Pinterest) that read: “The greatest thing a father can do for his daughter is to love her mother.” It’s really stuck with me, I guess because I believe it’s true. Being the grateful child of divorced parents, I agree that parents should not stay together just for the sake of the children, but I also think that sometimes separation happens a little too quickly. That maybe the difficulties we face within a marriage are things that can be worked out, that are worth the effort to work out. Especially when children are involved. I believe that they deserve the effort.
After my own parents divorced I told myself (and anyone who cared to listen) that I would never get married or have children. I was angry and hurt, and had lost faith in the institution of marriage. I didn’t want children because I didn’t trust that anyone would stick around, and I didn’t want to be responsible for breaking the hearts of any future kiddies that came along. Let’s face it: if your own father can leave you, anyone can. I really didn’t believe that I would ever meet someone that I could trust enough to stay. Sure, there were guys who said sweet stuff and made cheesy promises, and I smiled and pretended to believe them. But I didn’t. I knew that eventually they would leave, and eventually most of them did (although, I must admit that sometimes I helped that happen, just a little).
Then came S. I knew, just knew, that I could trust him to stay. I can’t explain it, even now that seven years have passed, but after our first date I told my sister that if he asked me to marry him the next day I would say yes, and I meant it (it took him a little longer to ask, but I’ll save that story for another day). And so, to show him how much I appreciate his dedication to me and our girls, I wanted to do something special for his birthday this past Sunday. Something that was him.
Now, if you know my husband, then you’ll know that he’s not really into money gifts. His wardrobe is full of the same clothes he’s had since we met, our furniture and most of his tools are either hand-me-downs or found on Kijiji, and our cars are almost as old as we are. So I wanted to give him something that was repurposed from things we already owned. Thanks again to Pinterest, the Great Procrastinator, I came up with a plan. When S went out to the dump with his dad (where he found some great treasures for our two Volvos), the girls and I rounded up some old sheets, yarn from a knitting project I never finished, clothes pins, and a camping lantern. We stuffed them into a sheet pocket that the girls and I decorated together, and made a card to match (from an old bib):
I wish I could say that we set up the fort that night and read books together by the light of our little camping lantern as I had envisioned, but instead the girls were really fussy and we spent most of the evening trying to pacify them and get them to bed. Then we spent the rest of the evening putting the oldest one back to bed. Repeatedly. Fun.
I feel very lucky to have found someone who loves me despite my birthday gift flaws (among others). I’m glad my girls get to see what real love looks like. But what I appreciate most about my husband is not how much he loves me, but how much he loves our girls. Despite the tantrums, the tears, the messes, the farts in his hand from a bare-bummed baby – despite it all, his love for them is
as tall as a mountain
as deep as the ocean
as far as the stars
and all the way back again.
And they know it.