I got married a few days shy of my 25th birthday. We were both young and full of optimism about our future. I didn’t know much about marriage, but I knew I loved Tom in a way I had never loved anyone else. He made me laugh, he pushed me to be adventurous, encouraged me to be my best self and loved me unconditionally.
Twenty-one years later we have experienced births, milestones, disappointments, laughter, heartbreak, forgiveness, happiness, and dreams.
I have an entirely different view of marriage then I did twenty-one years ago. I wish I could go back and reassure my 24-year-old self that she had chosen the right partner to walk beside her and be her best friend.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of things about Tom that annoy the hell out of me. For starters, he is always late, he hates planning and he sometimes talks in this really annoying accent that the girls think is funny, and it is not.
But I love watching Tom be a Dad to our three teenage daughters.
I remember when we became pregnant with our third child. So many people assumed “trying for that boy?” Side note, why do people think it is acceptable to ask totally inappropriate and personal questions to someone just because they are pregnant? Okay, that is a topic for a future post.
We replied “No, we actually always wanted three kids.”
And then there were the well-intentioned family members who wishfully commented “I hope it’s a boy for Tom” instead of wishing for a healthy baby and easy delivery for Christ’s sake.
We didn’t find out the sex of our baby any of the three times. I tried to explain to Tom that I needed to know. I didn’t want a nursery with yellow bedding and a closet full of yellow onesies. I hated yellow.
But he insisted with the cliché “how many surprises do you get in life” blah, blah, blah. I tried to explain to him that I would be housebound for months after this baby was born and unable to buy that adorable pink dress or those cute truck overalls. This was well before Amazon existed and people actually had to leave the house to shop.
So, we were surprised all three times, blessed with three beautiful daughters dressed in yellow onesies.
Motherhood didn’t come naturally to me at first. Let’s just say it was a “transition.” One minute I was an independent, hip, somewhat selfish, career-oriented 27-year old and nine months later I was someone’s Mom and had bloody nipples. Tom on the other hand was a natural. Maybe it was his laid back demeaner or the fact that he was a grown-up kid, but he seemed to instantly bond with each of our daughters. He gave baths, changed diapers and knew every goddamn word to that annoying Caillou song. The girls loved giving him manicures and playing dress up with him. He stood in line for twenty minutes at the American Girl Doll Store in New York so Bella’s doll could get a $30 facial.
As the girls have gotten older he has not lost his special bond with them. He has no problem going to a Taylor Swift concert and I think he was genuinely excited to see Pitch Perfect 3 with us on opening night. As a matter of fact, it is often him they go to with their problems before me. Yes, I sometimes get jealous, but I have also come to realize he can handle certain situations better than I can. He is able to distance himself and give them advice. I on the other hand try to fix all of their problems without much success. I revert back to my teenage angst and take everything that happens to my daughters personally. If they are upset because they didn’t get invited somewhere, I get emotional too flashing back to 10th grade when I wasn’t invited to Jen Ritter’s Sweet 16. If they get their heart broken, my heart aches remembering the anguish of my first break up.
I sometimes wonder what our life would be like if we had three sons. I am not sure I would have been such a great “Boy Mom.” I really hate dirt and frogs.
I overheard my daughter call Tom at work the other day “Dad, on your way home can you stop and get me pads? No wings please, last time you got the ones with wings and I just want the liners.”
He came home and plopped the bag full of pantyliners without wings on the kitchen table. Just another day in the life of a “Girl Dad.”
I know the girls will look back and realize how lucky they were to have such a special relationship with their Dad. I hope they will pick partners who love them unconditionally and embody the same positive traits as Tom. I can’t help thinking of the line from John Mayer’s song Daughters “Fathers, be good to your daughters, Daughters will love like you do.”
I have made a lot of bad decisions in my life but marrying Tom 21 years ago was not one of them. Our marriage and family life are nowhere close to perfect, honestly, it’s actually a bit messy. But I wouldn’t want to trudge through this mess with anyone else.