It’s no secret that watching a father interact with his child is a precious thing. Hallmark and Hollywood have made mega bucks from this simple fact. When I see a kid out with their dad, hanging out, talking, sharing an ice cream, it often gives me an awww moment. It seems silly doesn’t it? But that’s the roles that our western society have placed on us, even if we don’t agree with them whole heatedly, they are ingrained in us. I digress. I have only a few vivid memories of my early childhood with my own, but those I do have are pleasant.
As a mother, there are few things more wonderful than watching your partner transform into a father (though watching him do the dishes and hang out the washing come close). Ni is no longer transforming, he is transformed. Like a (very manly) butterfly emerging from a cocoon, Ni welcomed Bo into the world with such emotion, such love, such true joy when she was born it made people stop and stare. It took him a few months to adjust, as I’m sure it does with most fathers. To come around to the idea that this is his new family, that we, Bo and I, are his future.
He spent time away from us when Bo was very little. Every time Bo and I leave to travel back to Australia, she returns changed. Babies do this, they grow and change and develop at an alarming rate – blink and you might miss an amazing stage that is only fleeting. Every time we return to him he embraces her change.
As Bo gets older she gets more aware of who we are to her. We are her whole world and she lets us know it every day. Watching my husband be the father that I knew he could be, is both humbling and joyous. Their relationship reminds me that although I am the mother, I am not the only person she needs. She needs him just as much. I watch as she grabs a hold of his beard and looks deep into his eyes, cooing at him. I watch as he gently bathes her in the tub out the front of our house. I watch as he washes her nappies, wrangles her octopus arms and legs and tries to pin her down to change her. Always with the most absolute care. I watch as she rests her head (even momentarily) on his chest in a gesture that does away with any cultural or language difference we deal with on a day to day level – a gesture of absolute trust. No one can make Bo laugh the way her father can. He is patient with her, always. He loves her with a true, beautiful, unconditional love. And it makes my heart sing.
I watch them in the morning as he lays on his side on the cool tiles of our living room. Bo across his body, her feet on the floor. She bends her legs and launches her little chubby body over his side – reaching out for toys that lay just out of reach. Her body rocks and he is there, supporting her, giving her the freedom to move and be free – with his hands just inches away, protecting her from falling. I hope he will have this same support for her forever, giving her freedom to be herself, but always being there – protecting her from pain.
The two of them often walk together giving me a moment to shower or to work. They came home one day last week, Ni with a look of such gentle pride on his face. She reached for me, he said. She wanted me. They had been at a friends house, friends who had been holding and playing with Bo. Bo tiring began to squirm, grumpy and over it. She looked at him and put out her arms, wanting him to take her. She wanted me, he said again, it felt so good – I could see his heart melting right there in front of me. I remembered that feeling, the first time she did that to me, it’s the same as the feeling I still get every time she reaches for me. Or when I pick her up and she is so happy that she grabs the sides of my face and gives me a big, sloppy, open mouthed kiss often accompanied by a squeal of delight. He’s right. It feels so good.
Love breeds love. And it’s a good thing for all of us that there is a lot of love around here.
My husband is a wonderful father. It hasn’t been an easy road. With our cultural differences and the expectations of our families being worlds apart we have had to forge what has often felt like uncharted terrain.
Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of our little village wedding… where Bo was safely tucked inside my body, our little secret. Tomorrow is the one year anniversary of when it truly all began – our journey to being parents… the decisions we made with Bo in mind. I am grateful every day for this man. Despite our differences (and there are many), and the arguments (we have been known to have a few) and the hair pulling frustration we both have when it comes to language… we are in this together, with love. We have had a very difficult year, and there are more challenges laying ahead of us, but that’s OK, we are transformed (most days) – from the carefree, wild and seemingly untameable hooligans we both were when we met on the beach of this very village three years ago, into parents and partners.
Bo and I are very lucky to have him on our side.