My son’s father will come first because without him, we wouldn’t have our son.
It’s impossible to ignore. It’s all over Facebook and highlighted beautifully by mail and too monumental to go unnoticed.
My friends are growing up. They’re falling in love. They’re picking partners and reproducing with said partners and enjoying the crazy perfection family life has to offer.
But I’m also noticing that the professions of love and undying adoration my friends couldn’t help but share about their boyfriend or husband or fiancé, quickly become professions of love and undying adoration for their child.
And only their child.
In fact, I notice that their husbands or boyfriends are reduced to a simple shadow in their lives, present only when they want to highlight how much he loves their child, too.
I watch as their partner no longer becomes a focus, or even a poignant afterthought, while the baby becomes the one and only—and extremely consistent—priority.
I see their love for their partner playing second fiddle to their love for their child, as the baby and every single one of his or her movements or faces or noises become more important than the man who helped make them a reality.
I see the father becoming of little-to-no importance, as my girlfriends swear their child is their entire world and their child is the love of their life and their child is the reason they breathe.
And I can’t help but wonder how that makes the man they’ve married or partnered with or promised commitment to, feel.
I can’t help but think about the lesson we’re teaching our children when we make them our entire world and forsake the ones that played an intricate part in their existence.
I can’t help but look at my son’s father and promise him that, regardless of the love we share for our child, he will always come first.
My son’s father comes first because he deserves it. He deserves to be more than a baby-making sperm producer. He deserves to be seen as more than just my son’s father. He deserves to be touched like I touched him when we first met, and stared at the way I stared at him when we first met, and feel as important as I made him feel the first time we met.
My son’s father comes first because I want to show our son what a healthy, happy and thriving relationship really looks like. A relationship that makes love a priority, worthy of continued effort and thoughtful intention.
My son’s father comes first because without him, we wouldn’t have our son.
My son’s father comes first because eventually, our son will leave. He will live somewhere else, capable of taking care of himself and surviving as a (hopefully) functional member of society and our partnership will be all that is left. I don’t want to stand at our front door, waving goodbye to our child as he embarks on a new adventure, only to realize that the moment I step back into our home, I will be walking through the remains of a love we haven’t paid attention to in 18 years.
My son’s father comes first because our relationship leaves me fulfilled. While the love I have for my child is all-encompassing and difficult to adequately describe, it is not like the love I have for my partner. To my son, I will always be “mom”. To my partner, I will be his lover and his best friend and the mother of his child and his confidant. We are multiple things to one another, fulfilling multiple needs that, honestly, our son simply can’t.
My son’s father comes first because our family depends on it. Our partnership, our relationship, is the foundation of the family we’re growing and building and providing for. While it is so easy to focus on one small pillar—adorable and awe-inspiring though it may be—doing so will make it that much easier for our base to crack and splinter and break.
My son’s father comes first because we didn’t have a baby just to have a baby. We didn’t procreate to fulfill some societal standard of adulthood and we didn’t reproduce to feel accomplished. We had a child because we loved one another and that love was so overwhelming, it expanded in the form of a drooling, pooping mini-human. That love was there, first and foremost, and that love should continue to remain a point of constant focus.
So, while my love for my son is unparalleled, so is the love I have for the man who helped me make him.
And it is because I love my son that I will continue to promise his father that he will come first. He will always be more than a shadow or a sperm producer or a helpful hand when parenthood becomes overwhelming.
He is my best friend.
He is the love of my life.
He is my partner.
He is my son’s father.
And he will always come first.
Photo: Courtesy of author