for Josh

More than anything else, when I found you I knew you would be the perfect father for our children. When I met you, I knew. When I met you only online, even, I knew.

You said you didn’t consider whether or not you wanted children because you didn’t think you’d have the chance. I think that’s what you said back then. But I knew.

You and I see beauty in each other when we aren’t able to see it in ourselves. I don’t care that that sentence is a stumbling, bumbling mess. You know what I mean. Even if our ability to read each other’s minds has weakened (what? you don’t know what I mean when I say, “that thing over there that sounded like the one with the dog and the cat?”), we understand each other.

Sniffy and nosey. The connection you have with the tops of our daughter’s heads sums up so much about the beauty of your fathering. It’s pure love. A deep, physical experience, straight into the metaphorical heart. I don’t know if metaphorical is the right word, but, again, I don’t care because I know you’ll know what I mean.

Sometimes you act like you are one of the children. You tantrum right along side our almost-six-year-old. She senses that you are being a kid, too, so you lose control over the situation. It escalates and you can’t get her to do what you want. You try to be firm, but sound instead like you are asking, even begging. But, guess what? It’s beautiful. It is You. It is how you are, and Maya loves you for it. I do, too. She’s not scared of you. It may put you at a disadvantage sometimes, but mostly it makes you the safest of all for her.

As I write this I hear you reading to Maya. Just the sound of your voice, the inflections, the great enthusiasm for the language of books. Just those simple things — even as you incorporate that huge yawn into the story — are gifts to our children. She said something to you and I heard Mmch Mmch Mmch (kiss kiss kiss), most definitely those landed on the top of her head.

So you can’t nurse Althea. But already she knows your feel. With this baby number two, we’re exploring a larger role in your parenting the infant. Your confidence is up about a million times. Mine, too. If you can just block out some of my ridiculous back-seat parenting, you know exactly what you are doing.

Ignoring my back-seat parenting. This is our biggest challenge, I think. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to find your own truth in parenting when you’ve got this force (me) with so many opinions about just how things should be. True, I’ve got some good ideas based on my time spent with them. But I can never, ever know what’s right for you as father, as Josh, as Daddy. Just because I think Maya will respond to… or Althea needs… does not make it so. As you learn to tune me out more (our mutual goal), and as I learn to keep my mouth shut (my goal), you blossom.

Is this too personal for a blog post? For some people, it might be. But as @mrshl pointed out on Friday, we have our own public social networking relationship. (That could be a whole blog post, couldn’t it? Couples online and the pros and cons of it?)

When I found you in alt.music.soulcoughing I was drawn to you almost immediately. Smart, so so so very smart. Funny. Bitter. Clever. Did I mention, smart? SMRT? “You are the smart! You are the smart! S-M-R-T!” A writer. A musician. And, somehow, despite life’s very cruel and deeply sad events, you remain one of the most tender, honest, and genuinely real people I’ve ever known. Genuinely real. What a terrible word combination. But, guess what? I don’t care. You know what I mean.

So many qualities that makes you *you* are the exact qualities that make you a gifted father. Your: tenderness, intelligence, creativity, talent, impatience, patience, self-sacrifice, cat love, desire to please, learning to recognize your own needs, silliness, playfulness, childlike humor, mind-blowing sense of responsibility, snuggliness, joy, anger, frustration, wit, ambition, selflessness, ability to read upside down or for hours at a time, laziness, energy, enthusiasm, and most of all your expressive and ever-giving capacity to share and show and feel love.

Our children are lucky beyond description that you are their father. I am lucky beyond description that you are my partner in this journey called parenting.

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