A Letter of Profound Gratitude
By Emily Artz French
My husband and I usually don’t fuss over one another on birthdays. But this year is different: it’s his first birthday as a father. I want to make a fuss.
First-time parenthood is a rush — a flood of emotions, mistakes, tears and laughter. Too often, we focus on the needs of mama and baby and forget that new dads need love and support too. For many, they are the glue bonding new families together, carrying out silent acts of tenderness between the seams. I couldn’t have made it through the past year without my husband — and I can’t imagine going forward without him.
Happy Birthday. Last year at this time, when I wasn’t glued to the sofa, my head was in the toilet. The only food I could stomach were bananas and bagels, and I couldn’t stand the smell of you. Yet, I was giddy with excitement for what was to come.
Reflecting on the past year feels like reflecting on the history of mankind itself — and in many ways, for our little family, it was. This past year was monumental. Today, as I write this, we’re all three hunkered down in our little apartment during an early March snowstorm, and there’s no place I’d rather be. Today, I want to thank you.
When I was pregnant…
Thank you for not taking it personally when I told you to get away from me because I couldn’t stand your smell.
Thank you for not taking it personally when I told you to not eat in front of me, because I couldn’t stand your chewing.
Thank you for not taking it personally when I told you to just get away from me.
Thank you for rubbing my back ‘with the touch of fairy wings’ every night.
Thank you for knowing what ‘with the touch of fairy wings’ should feel like, without asking me to elaborate.
Thank you for letting me leave for weeks at a time, when I just needed to be with my mom.
Thank you for never questioning our ability to be parents, despite my near-weekly meltdowns over the subject.
Thank you for never questioning my obsessive need to run to Target every day for a month before Ella was born.
Thank you for never asking how much I spent.
Thank you for riding your bike 7 miles to and from work in 100 degree temperatures, so that I could have the car, thus accepting the sweaty guy status at your new office.
Thank you for making me feel more beautiful, as each size of grannie panties increased around my growing belly, butt and thighs.
Thank you for wrapping your arms around me when I just needed to cry.
On the night Ella was born….
Thank you for simply following orders to frantically clean the apartment between my contractions.
Thank you for slow dancing with me during my contractions.
Thank you for not making fun of me when, upon seeing a fox outside our window, I believed it some kind of spiritual sign and decided to give our first-born the middle name of ‘Fox’.
Thank you for letting me realize, on my own, how bad of an that idea was, before submitting the birth certificate.
Thank you for sprinting back to the delivery room, abandoning the doula’s suggestion to go find me some broth (broth!?), after I was already 9 centimeters dilated and on the verge of needing to push.
Thank you for not missing the birth of our daughter for want of broth.
Thank you for not passing out in the delivery room, like you’re known to do when giving blood.
Thank you for standing by me, holding my hand and welcoming our daughter to the world with me.
Thank you for giving our daughter the longest eye lashes any human has ever had.
For the past 5 months…
Thank you pretending not to notice my unibrow.
Thank you for pretending not to notice my 5-day old leg stubble.
Thank you for giving me an ‘atta girl’ when I’m too tired to fold my laundry at the end of the day and throw it on the floor instead.
Thank you for never batting an eye when I’ve left you with a two-day-old pile of Ella’s poo-encrusted cloth diapers.
Thank you for Daddy, Mommy and Ella dance parties.
Thank you for scheduling Family Fun Days.
Thank you for repeatedly unclogging the shower drain of two-foot-long, rat-sized clumps of my hair, and laughing about it.
Thank you for going to the grocery store after work every evening, because you know how much going to the grocery store makes my skin crawl.
Thank you for cooking, even on nights you go to the grocery store.
Thank you for not rushing me back to work and Ella into daycare.
Thank you for getting up with Ella at 5am every morning, so that I can sleep in.
Thank you for making Ella and me feel like the most important people on the planet.
Thank you for always coming home after work with a smile on your face.
Thank you for putting a smile on Ella’s face every time she sees you.
Thank you for encouraging me to get out of the house, even on days I don’t feel like it.
Thank you never calling me out for lazy toothpaste-squeezing etiquette.
Thank you for letting me pick and prod at you like a primate grooming her mate.
Thank you for making me laugh uncontrollably.
Thank you for supporting every half-wit idea I have for making a living… and never questioning it if I don’t follow through.
Thank you for supporting every half-wit idea I have for making a living… and being my biggest champion when I actually do follow through.
Thank you for encouraging me to make art — even if I end up throwing it away — simply because you know it makes me happy.
Thank you for working your butt off for the past four years to secure a career that would allow you work anywhere.
Thank you for assuring me that, yes, even people on tropical islands need their taxes done, when I ask if that ‘anywhere’ can be a tropical island.
Thank you for making communication the cornerstone of our marriage.
Thank you for always seeing the best in people.
Thank you for being an optimist.
Thank you for being a phenomenal father.
Thank you for being a phenomenal husband.
Thank you for being there.
Thank you for making every new phase of our lives together the happiest one yet.
Happy Birthday. I love you.
Originally published at emilyartzfrench.com on March 3, 2014.