Father’s Day makes me a little nutty – of course I never anticipate this annual reaction. It comes on fast and furious, and it’s always difficult. I’ll write about that in another post, but for the sake of my mental health I want to focus on the positive. Here goes…
Today I’m so very grateful for Gil, father of my children and husband extraordinaire.
I couldn’t ask for a better dad for my two boys. Gil has always wanted to be a father, though he would never admit it. I’ll never forget the look on his face the first time I took a pregnancy test. My world felt like it was crashing, but my made-to-be-a-father husband couldn’t contain his joy as I shoved the strange plastic stick baring a large plus sign at him. It had only been a few months earlier that he reluctantly expressed his fear that he might never be a father. Looking back, this makes me smile — a testament to the kind of parent he would become.
I remember the sheer terror I felt lying helplessly in the hospital after our first son was born. I’ll never forget the emotional breakdown, complete with uncontrollable sobbing and heaving, I had in the hospital bathroom as I endured my “routine” sitz bath. Walking felt like my insides were going to violently crash through my lady parts and onto the floor, yet those damn nurses couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to spend every moment with my new baby. Hell, I didn’t understand why I felt sick every time I had to touch him. I wanted to wake from this atrocious nightmare — but this very nightmare that felt so utterly unmanageable was the fairytale so many of my friends hoped and prayed for. I didn’t have the right to feel this way after an easy pregnancy and routine birth that left me with a healthy baby boy — not just healthy but perfect in every way imaginable. I was just too ill-equipped and damaged to recognize this perfection for which I was now responsible.
This is where the remarkable father took over. In the midst of my insecurity (and sitz bath), he pulled my face towards his with his strong and capable hands, looked directly into my swollen, tear-stained eyes and firmly instructed me to “get it together.”
He continued, “This is not a dress rehearsal, Viv. That baby in there didn’t ask to be born, so it’s time for you to check your shit. We are all he has, and we are NOT going to screw this up.”
Apparently, I looked so shocked and for once, speechless, that he recognized my need for compassion. He took my half-clothed body, complete with blood trickling down my legs, into his strong arms and held me as I sobbed, and whether he really meant them or not, spoke the very words I so desperately needed to hear. “I love you more than you can imagine, and as long as I am on this earth, you will never have to parent this child alone. I know how afraid you are, but I also know how undeniably capable you are. If I could have hand picked a woman to have my child, she would have never come anywhere close to the perfection that is you.”
Perhaps he was bullshitting me right and left, but he was smart enough to recognize that I needed a no-holds-barred, put-all-the-cards-on-the-table speech. And boy did he deliver. He’s lived up to his promise and has been delivering ever since.
Happy Father’s Day to one amazing cat. I love you to the moon and back plus some.