In 1999, when I still wore cargo pants, and he still wore tape on his glasses, I met a young man. His apartment was nextdoor to mine, and our apartments shared a balcony. We lived at 4th and Daniel just off the University of Illiniois Urbana-Champaign campus. The first night we talked to each other we stayed up talking until 4 am, and we both decided that when we were older, if we didn't find someone to marry, we should marry each other. I remember telling him everything there was to know about me and learning many of his secrets he'd never shared with anyone. We both knew we'd be lifelong friends.
He was hot. Did I mention he was hot? He very forwardly told me he thought I was attractive too. We spent a lot of time getting to know each other, and around four months later, in the middle of the night, he came over and told me that he didn't know what the future held, but he knew that being with me made him happy. He smiled the biggest smile I had ever seen anyone smile. I had my retainer in, and I remember thinking, "I'm going to marry this man someday, and I'll have to tell my children I had to pop my retainer out to kiss him. Will they be horrified about the retainer or about hearing their parents kissed?"
We never talked about wanting children. We were 19 and 20, and most relationships that start when your a Sophomore and Junior in college don't end up with walks down the aisle and adorable children. I did wonder, in the privacy of my own imagination, what our children would look like if we ever had any.
Years passed by and adventure after adventure came. We eventually married, six years after meeting on the balcony that night in 1999. We still never talked about having children. Our dear friends had a baby girl a couple of years later, and we both fell so in love with her, we knew we wanted children. (Thanks Aubriella). When we talked about starting our family, we talked about how we wanted to wait to make sure our children would be accepted. We half-joked that if McCain won the election we should wait. President Obama won, and about 8.5 months later (he came early) Noah was born.
People tell you that your relationship with your husband/wife/spouse/life partner will change when you have children. The way I love Ash romantically expanded and opened a special place in my heart when we had children. Ash is an amazing dad. There are parts of a person you never see until you see them love their own child. The quiet, special parts of their heart that are saved, grow, revealed and unleashed are astounding.
Whether he's dancing with the kids to Gangnam style, showing Noah how to crack an egg, reading Maya a book, playing the part of the Princess when Noah asks him to play "The Princess and the boy" or running around at the park, Ash is 100% a loving, nurturing, kind father. In the moments where he holds our children tight, the moment he held me when I miscarried between Noah and Maya, the little moments, the happy moments, the sad moments, the "this could only happen to us" we want to explode with laughter and love moments. Those moments don't make a man, but they are the moments when a father shows who he is. Every day, when he is with us or away for work, he is loving Noah and Maya with everything he has. And a story like that is one that I am so incredibly grateful to be a part of. Every day. Even the bad ones.
Here's a little story of a dad, in pictures. A dad who loves and is loved. Very much.
Happy Father's Day, Ash!