My life’s been turned upside down,” my friend laments. “His,” she continues, speaking of her husband, “has changed about 70%—maybe not even that much.” I didn’t tell her I’d had similar thoughts. That I’d come to the conclusion that, especially in those first few months of our daughter’s life when I was consumed by the endless cycle of nursing, napping and diaper changing, a saggy skinned shadow of my former self, my husband’s life seemed about as changed as if we’d gotten another dog—“maybe not even that much.”
Twenty-five years ago with two young children and in an attempt to up the percentage of change in my father’s life, or more accurately, to change my father, my mom composed a kind of self-improvement to-do list for my dad. Among the 10 or 12 items on it were “quit smoking,” “go places as a family,” “nutritious food for the kids,” and “more equitable division of housework.” Today, amongst other treasures on the top of his chest of drawers, my dad still keeps the list because, he says, he’s still working on it. While he did “quit drinking” when I was in my early teens and has been allowed to cross off “read to Chipper,” since my little brother, now a member of the Virginia Bar Association, is presumably able to read to himself, the list has remained largely ignored.
I have considered both how much my husband’s life has been altered by our daughter and what, if anything, I would include on a list to encourage further change in his life. In doing so it’s not because he doesn’t change Maisie’s diapers or put her socks back on 87 times a day or mix oatmeal and baby food bananas to just the right consistency and flavor or take her fishing or, as so many of those other sexy Missoula dads, wear her out in public, it’s because he generally makes it look so easy. And in making it look easy I wonder if he’s really changed at all. Shouldn’t there be a struggle, some challenge to overcome from which our hero emerges a changed man?
No doubt about it, my husband is a fantastic dad. Though I fall short at times, he never seems to. He walks repeatedly around the block with our baby when she’s fussy and bounces endlessly on the exercise ball until she falls asleep when I’ve long since written her off as unlikely to ever rest again. He creates stories with her bath toys, makes plans to move to the Arctic Circle when she’s of dating age, and declares not that he wants a son to take hunting, but that he “can’t wait until Maisie’s old enough to go.”
Undoubtedly, my life has been turned upside down, transformed completely since the birth of our little girl. And while I don’t know if Aaron feels like his has changed 50 or 500%, I do know that he is a grade A wonderful daddy—100%.