It’s amazing, I’m actually the only one awake in the house right now. Both kids are sleeping. Actually, I think I hear some quiet babbling coming from Harris’ room, so I think he’s awake now. (I LOVE it when they reach the stage when they babble when they wake-up instead of shriek and you have time to actually finish what you’re doing and go to the bathroom before getting them instead of running at full-speed to rescue them from the bed!) It’s 7:30 a.m. and Clay just left for work and I woke-up about 15 minutes ago. Harris and Clay, on the other hand, woke-up at about 5 a.m. this morning. Harris is a bit of an early bird these days. He always wakes-up in the 5 o’clock hour, sometimes even as early as 4:30 a few times a week. (Yeah, I KNOW.) Since I still feed him twice a night (and he often wakes-up yet another time besides that), I’m pretty tired and my night doesn’t feel over by the time 5 a.m. rolls around. So my dear Clay, wonderful husband and parent that he is, wakes-up with Harris on the weekdays and lets me sleep-in until he leaves around 7 a.m. (I get-up with Harris on the weekends and let Clay sleep-in and then I take a nap when he wakes-up.) Having that extra hour or two of sleep makes ALL the difference in how I feel when I get up for the day.
So let’s just say that what I consider to be romantic and what stirs my heart in love for Clay is really different these days. I still love romantic gestures like flowers and backrubs, but what I NEED is a husband who is wiling to be an active co-parent. And Clay is awesome at that. He is a GREAT dad. From the time Evelyne was a baby, we’ve shared much of the responsibilities of parenthood. Of course most of it still falls to me since I’m breastfeeding and at home 95% of the time while he has another full-time job, but Clay has always made the most of his role as dad. When the babies are little, he gets-up in the middle of the night with them when he’s able. When Evelyne was little and waking-up twice a night, he would give her a bottle once a night 4 or 5 days out of the week so I could have a longer stretch of sleep. Harris won’t take a bottle in the middle of the night, but Clay gets-up to give him a paci and help him get back to sleep, and he wakes-up in the morning with him. He’s always encouraged me to go out with friends when I can, even wanting me to go away for the weekend and leaving him as a solo parent.
I think we first did that when Evelyne was 7 months old, I left for the weekend to go to an out-of-town wedding, and I remember feeling grateful that I could be so confident that everything was perfectly under control at home and Clay knew exactly what to do with her. And now on the weekends when I get in the bed to take a nap (at least once a day when he’s home!) or have some alone time, I really don’t have any worries that he won’t know what to do with the kids. He is an actively involved parent to the max. He knows all the foods Evelyne likes and doesn’t like, he knows what Harris needs to nap and what times to put him down to sleep, he remembers to change their diapers, change their clothes, and sing their favorite songs. Putting Evelyne to bed every night has been his job for about the past year or so. He reads her books, prays with her, rocks her, and sings songs. Every. Night.
I’m pretty aware that not all dads are like this, many are much less involved in the daily nuances of their kids. Maybe this is also because I tend to talk his ear off about every little thing involving them, but he does a great job of really paying attention and learning what they need. In a few weeks I’ll be leaving town again for a few days and Harris will be staying here with Clay. The longest I’ve left him before is just a few hours, and while I”ll miss him a lot, I’m not worried in the least. (I’m actually kinda worried about Clay, but not about Harris! Surviving the sleep deprivation usually takes some teamwork!)
Our lives really aren’t that exciting or super fun these days, mostly just because we’re pretty housebound since Harris can’t really sleep anywhere but in a dark room with a loud fan (not even the car, people! I can count on one hand the times he’s fallen asleep in the car in his entire life, even as a newborn!) and needs to nap more frequently than we’d like. Not to mention, by the time the weekend rolls around, I’m so excited to have an opportunity to take a nap and do something by myself (usually just reading a book or going to the store) that we don’t do much as a family or a couple. We still get out, but it can’t be for long or very far from home or else we’ll pay for with even less sleep that night! It’s just the season we’re in, it was like this with Evelyne, too, and the older she got the more rested we got and the more we did fun things.
And in this season, what I really need is a partner, someone to be there on my team. Someone that I can turn to in the middle of the night and say, “I just fed him an hour ago and he’s awake again… Can you please deal with this?” Someone that always says, “Sure! Go!” when I ask him if he minds if I go get in the bed and read while he watches the kids. And Clay is the perfect person for me to be doing this parenting gig with. So when you’re in the throes of young family life, romance takes a different form, and when I woke-up this morning after a couple of extra hours of sleep to a quiet house and Harris already taking his first nap…. I felt very loved and thought, “Wow, I definitely married the right guy!”