Jackson turns six months old on Monday — the same day his father turns 42. Six months ago, he was a tiny, itty bitty thing — only five pounds! — with thin, wrinkled skin, and nothing where his eyelashes and eyebrows would eventually grow. He almost fit into the palm of my hand and for the first three weeks of his life, I worried that he could stop breathing at any time. At night, instead of sleeping, I hovered over him, watching his chest rise and fall, willing myself to stay awake in case he needed me.
His father, of course, was right there beside us, staying awake through the night, bottle-feeding Jackson and changing his diapers, grinning ear-to-ear through the fog of sleep deprivation. He had waited so long to become a dad and as excited as he was to find me, to fall in love and become a husband, fatherhood was the topping, the thing that gave his life its richest meaning. And, boy, does he love it.
In Missouri over the weekend, as my grandmother and my aunt watched Drew dote on Jackson, they reminded me over and over how lucky I am to have a husband who is so committed to our baby — so hands-on in the daily details of parenting. And as appreciative as I am — and I truly am! — in these modern times, I would hope that a father like Drew would not be an anomaly. Yes, he gets up with him every single night. He takes over the second he gets home from work — not because I’ve asked, but because he wants to. He reads to him every day, and walks with him, and tells him stories about his family. And, yes, he even gives me a weekend off to fly to Chicago to see my friends while he stays home and takes care of Jackson all by himself for three days straight. I love him for it, and I’m grateful, but he should not be an anomaly.
As Jackson closes in on six months with us, he’s going through an intense developmental stage. He’s this close to sitting up by himself, and his teeth are fighting with all their might to break through his gums, and he’s dragging himself around our apartment trying desperately to crawl, and just this past weekend, as we sat with my grandma and grandpa and aunt (they all live together) at the breakfast table, Jackson looked at Drew and as clear as day said, “Dada!” We all whooped and hollered and clapped our hands, and egged on by our enthusiasm, he said it again and again. “Dada, Dada, Dada!” he exclaimed, smiling his big Jackson smile.
And the look on Drew’s face — well, it was worth the agony of those first three weeks I was afraid to sleep. It was worth the traumatic labor, and the multiple hospital stays in my third trimester, and it was worth the frogs I had to kiss before I found him.
“Did you always know you’d like being a mother so well?” my aunt asked me over the weekend.
“Oh, yeah,” I answered, because even in the back on my mind when I imagined I could be perfectly content never having kids, I knew I was meant to be a mom some day. “I just wanted to wait until I found the right father for my kids,” I replied.
And I did.
Happy birthday to both my boys!