While I was out alone one rare evening, I texted my husband. “How are things?” I typed. He was holding down the fort with our three young daughters and I felt it only right for me to check in.
Within a few minutes, my phone buzzed. “Just got P down for the night. The girls are good. A unicorn-related crisis is now over.”
I stood in the middle of a busy store and laughed out loud.
My husband surprised me when we had our children. At times, he gets overly stressed out by the chaos and noise. He’s convinced that only our kids have developed a deep inability to listen. He has been known to yell “Baths are not for splashing!”
And then, at other times, he handles unicorn-related crises with ease. He’s unflappable. He will lay on the floor and laugh as three little girls climb all over him, their gangly legs kicking and thrashing at him, three loud voices yelling “DADDY!!” all at once.
“Man, they have sharp little elbows,” he’ll say and smile at me between their shouts.
When our first daughter came into the world, my husband spent the night she was born staring at her tiny newborn face, patiently waiting for his turn to hold her. After a while, I delicately handed her over to him.
“Have you got her?” I asked. At the time, I didn’t realize that I would never need to ask this question again. He had her. Still has her, actually. And both of her sisters, too.
That night, I watched him walk gingerly over to the hospital room sofa and sit down. He placed her on his chest, tummy-to-tummy. After a moment, his entire body relaxed. He put his head back on the cushion as he let his eyes close. Comfortable. At ease. He was home.
When he opened his eyes to look at me, they were glassy and red. I started crying. We both started laughing.
“This feels really nice,” he said to me. And that was the moment. He was a Dad.
Since then, he’s been busy raising three little girls. And while a 6, 4 and 2 year old can be a lot to handle on one’s own – I know he’ll manage it all. If there are boo-boos to kiss, he’ll kiss them. Dinner will be made and served on their favourite plates. A missing unicorn stuffy will be searched for and found. Games will be played. Stories told. Hair combed and teeth brushed.
He is their constant.
He is showing them, in his quiet way, that men should be sensitive. Reliable. Kind. He’s teaching them about healthy relationships. And they are learning how multi-layered a man can be.
He is doing what Dads do.
My daughters’ generation is lucky. For the most part, Dads are completely involved in their kids’ lives like my husband is. They know what type of cups their kids prefer to rinse with when brushing their teeth. They know what type of cheese each kid favours. And the way they like their bedtime routine to be carried out. They’re taking them to ballet and soccer and they’re doing hair and hauling everyone out and about with a giant bag full of diapers and snacks.
And they’re doing it because they want to.
That night, I put my phone away in my purse, confident that I wouldn’t need it for the rest of my evening. My daughters were home playing games, colouring, overcoming unicorn-related crises. They were with their Dad.
Exactly where they should be.