Just last week, my slightly- vain 30-something husband came down the stairs wearing shorts, black socks, and yes, sandals. Being the loving wife that I am, I gently pointed out his fashion faux-pas (ok, so maybe I was on the floor laughing) only to be shocked at his complete indifference, and worse, refusal to change—or at least take off—the socks.
It’s official: I’m married to a dad.
Somehow during my 10 months of pregnancy (yes, that’s right—42 weeks—do the math), as I tried to prepare for all the changes motherhood would bring, I never really considered how fatherhood would change my husband.
I’m not referring to the big stuff changes that happen once you have a child—ranging from changes in your perspectives, priorities, values, lifestyles, and even politics. For us, having a child really changed so many of these things—some we are still trying to figure out.
I’m referring to the little changes and new traits that emerge and one day you suddenly find yourself married to a “Dad.” A man who has no problem carrying a pink flowery diaper bag, who in public speaks fluent baby talk to his daughter, and is not above using the ladies room if that is the only bathroom where the changing table is. You find yourself wondering what happened to the man who once proclaimed that he could never change a diaper without gagging, who now makes up songs about it, or where the man who once never left with so much as a spot on his shirt now often goes to work wrinkled. And you find yourself loving this new person all the more for his/her selflessness and devotion to being a parent. (And you figure once your kid is old enough to be embarrassed by his/her appearance, you might get the snazzy dresser back.)
Witnessing some of these changes can even make you fall in love with your significant other all over again. I realize this every time I hear my husband’s Elmo voice. My husband has always been great with voice impersonations—especially George W. Bush and any line from Harlem Nights. But now instead of Eddie Murphy lines, I will hear a high-pitched Elmo voice “Oh, that tickles Elmo the most!” I love this silly side that I just didn’t get the chance to see much of before.
(Incidentally, on Purim, my husband used his Elmo voice for a reading. The kids were hypnotized. Afterwards, a mother came up and told him that her VERY excited daughter had turned to her and said, “Mommy, I didn’t know that Elmo was Jewish!”)
And some of these changes can be really practical and useful, such as my husband’s newfound interest in having a clean home. The same man who once could go years without cleaning his toilet now follows me around the house with a dustbuster. That’s not to say he has suddenly become a neat freak—he’s just started to do and care more. But it’s a start, and I’ll take it.
As great as some of these changes are, there are, of course some changes and new traits that I could live without. You know, black socks and sandals aren’t exactly a turn-on. (He would probably say the same about my sweats and t-shirts but hey, this is about him). And I could totally live without the “Activity Dad” that takes possession of my husband’s body on the weekend. Before my daughter was born, my husband liked nothing better than to spend his off-duty time relaxing. And I liked it that way. But now nary a weekend goes by without at least one big family activity. The same person who once proclaimed that a day off spent doing absolutely nothing was the perfect day, now rides Mommy’s ass on the weekend mornings to hurry out the door for these activities. Seriously, is it too much to ask to have a half hour—time I don’t have during the week—to take care of some personal grooming?
Of course, all this is trivial to the fact that my husband is an absolutely amazing father. And I can’t express just how special it is has been to watch my daughter and husband together—to see how much they both love and adore each other. Raising a child together has truly taught me how love grows over the years. Black socks and all.