Dear Dan, my sweet husband and Selah’s beloved daddy,
You said it best in a letter you wrote to me for my birthday: we’ve barely had time to breathe lately. We’re six months into this parenting gig, and it has been a whirlwind at a best, a hurricane at worst. Every time we think we have this parenthood thing under control and that we have Selah figured out, she senses our smugness surprises us with something new (or worse, something old—like waking in the middle of the night).
We both needed some time to bond with Selah and truly attach to her as parents. For me, that process was pretty quick, and it makes sense: as her food source, she was attached to my body around the clock for quite some time. But for you, it took a little longer. You loved to snuggle her, you thought she was the most beautiful baby girl in the world, but your bond began to solidify with those first few smiles, and it’s cemented further with each fit of giggles, each time she lights up when we walk into her room in the morning, each time she reaches for your face and rubs her hands on your beard.
You are many, many things to us, but these are a few that rise to the top.
You are . . .
My labor coach, my life coach, my constant encourager.
During pregnancy, you told me how beautiful I was and how proud you were; you cheered me on as I tried to stay fit despite a quickly growing basketball belly. You pressed into my back during labor contractions and you told me I was strong and capable when I didn’t think I could keep pushing. You stroked my hair when I cried through every nursing session those first few days, sitting up with me during 3:00 am feedings so that even in my new-mom loneliness, I wouldn’t be alone. You go out of your way to find little ways to affirm and encourage me in motherhood and to remind me that we’re doing the very best we can.
Selah’s steadfast and trustworthy source of fatherly love.
Something I’ve always appreciated about you is your steadfastness. Not easily shaken or doubtful, you balance my emotional, anxious tendencies and provide a refuge for me when I can’t keep hoping. Your arms are my haven and your words are my balm, and I couldn’t imagine any man who would be a better example for our daughter of God’s ever-steady, unchanging love. Nothing about a baby’s first year is breezy, but your unwavering support has steadied our family in the stormy moments.
Selah’s example of masculinity and tenderness.
Every little girl needs an example of God’s love, a love that is all at once maternal and paternal, fierce and tender, protecting and persevering. You and I know that we can wholeheartedly place our trust in a loving God, but Selah is just learning this; she’s building her conceptions about the nature of God’s love through the ways we love her. Your father-love for her is both strong and soft, willing and able to protect her, yet gentle enough that she’ll always sense your compassion and warmth. (Just don’t make me be the bad cop all the time, okay?)
My partner in providing and in parenting.
You’re a true partner in parenting and in decision making, which is a gift I don’t take lightly. I know I tend to want to control everything, but each time I ask for your opinion, I’m met with a wealth of wisdom and a desire to do what’s best for our family — not just what’s best for you or for me or for Selah, but for all of us. Both of us working full time while splitting the childcare responsibilities is complicated to say the least, but I love that she gets so much quality time with her daddy each week and is participating in a family dynamic that while not “traditional,” is empowering. I hope that as a result, her growing concepts of family, fatherhood, and motherhood will be wide and inclusive.
Watching you fall in love with our daughter has been one of the greatest joys of my life, and every time I see you care for our little girl with such tenderness, it reminds me that marrying you was the best decision I’ve ever made, because no one else could be a better parenting partner for me, nor could anyone else could love Selah like you do. Happy Father’s Day to you.
All my love,
I wrote a book! If you’re longing for stories about the transformation we experience as we become mothers (and the joy, uncertainty, fear, and wonder that come along with it), I hope you’ll check out Expecting Wonder.