As I made my way up the stairs tonight, I could hear our daughter squealing with delight as you performed your usual pre-bedtime puppet show. Contagious giggles echoed throughout our cluttered, beautiful home.
How our lives have changed.
Where we would once sleep in on a Sunday, hang out in my tiny apartment, go out to breakfast, make love, or lie together peacefully reading books — now we can barely catch our breath.
How fragile our relationship has been throughout the uncertainty and triumph of new life. Through the harshness of decisions, responsibility, and fear, somehow we made it to this point.
I savor the moment — this moment. The moment where we have a home, we have food, we have laughter, and we have succeeded in creating a secure environment where both our children can evolve their own ideas and identities.
Before we came together to parent these two children — one my biological child and one not — we knew very little about the journey that was in store for us. We thought we knew, of course — but we didn’t.
As I witness you being the strong man and father that you are and knowing that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my life, my smile grows wider.
Tonight, in this house, we are a peaceful, functioning unit. All the passion, sweat, tears, and perseverance has come to fruition. We overcame adversity and created abundance. We created a family.
The things we did before we became parents together matter. The people we dated, the places we traveled, and the heartbreaks we endured. The roads we went down and the lessons we learned as individuals before we met shaped us into the way we both now act, think, talk, love, and raise our children together.
I know that since we became parents together, our expectations of ourselves have changed. We know the kids are watching us with curious minds like sponges. Every word, every reaction, every mistake — we own it.
Parenting can be like trying to lead by example even when you’re stumbling around like a drunk person. Even when we don’t know what to do, we MUST know what to do. Somehow you muddle through.
Parenting has changed us both. We’re not as carefree. We’re more serious. We’re more worried.
But we’re also more purposeful. We have a vision of what kind of world we want to show our children. This vision motivates us every day to live up to our potential and meet up with our inner strength even when we’re devastatingly exhausted.
Parenting has made us much more than the people we were when we were first dating. It has made us a team. A team that accepts questions, mistakes, and apologies.
A team that pulls together even after we just had an argument. A team that has one common goal in this world, which is to love our children, follow our dreams, and always, always laugh.
Previously published on “A Parent Is Born,” a Medium publication.
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Photo credit: Michelle Brown