As we grow older, and our marriage takes on the kind of longevity that makes people's eyebrows go up in surprise, there are different moments that make me fall in love with him. It is the moments when I see him as a father because in those moments all that is good about him is there before me. His compassion and empathy. His sense of fun. His intense love and devotion to his family. These are the things that make my heart beat faster. That make me want to pull him to me. These are the moments that I pull out and savor.
This first moment came the day of Umberto's arrival in the world. I wish I could say it was that second after birth but I don't have much memory of that time. I was shell shocked. Too stunned to be aware of much. Instead, it was later while we were resting. I woke up and turned to look for my baby who was not in his nursery crib. No my baby boy was snuggled beside his father on the cot beside me. H was softly reading T.S. Eliot to him. And I thought that I could not survive this love. But I did. Only to have repeated three more times.
Seeing his hand on Camille's little head, eyes filled with tears. Him and I birthing Piper. His smile as he got to finally cut the cord on one of this babies. Our eyes meeting as they pulled R to my chest and knowing that we were going to make it. Really. Fill in those moments with thousands of images of play and care. Him in the pool playing "Water horse" with the beasties. Him talking us into walks around neighborhoods while we whine and cry and finally settle into enjoying this time with him. Him cradling Camille as her chin bleeds onto his tee-shirt. Him telling Umberto, "It's okay. Just wrap your arms around me and I'll be here the whole time." right before Umberto seizes. Him reading to kids or playing board games.
It is not that he has morphed into being just a father. It is rather that being a father has sharpened all the qualities that make him someone I love. I love him because he has allowed his children to make him a better person.