I look over at you, my husband.
You lie in pink princess sheets, having crawled in bed with our daughter to help her get back to sleep after she suddenly awoke.
I feel an unexpected and intense pang of loneliness, remembering the “us” that existed once upon a time.
And while I wouldn’t change our tiny family for anything in the world, I can’t help but contemplate this new relationship—one in which I have to share my husband with our little girl.
My eyes scan the blue-grey light of her room where you both rest.
I can’t help but appreciate your strong back as you lie on your side cradling our child.
My gaze lovingly caresses your broad back; noticing how every line of muscle displays your strength.
I see your head move, up off of your Cinderella pillow, and my eyes dart over to her—her eyes now softly re-closed, her lips completely relaxed—and I can tell that, as usual, you’ve quickly and easily gotten her back into her dreams.
You pull the covers a little bit higher around your strong, broad back and your hand suddenly lifts to scratch your thick, curly hair and then returns to rest gently across her small, bubblegum pink-swathed chest.
When I was a girl, my own mother always told me that a person’s character is written onto his hands.
The first thing that I noticed about you when we met were your hands.
You were just a boy, but I can still remember thinking that your wide palms looked both capable and steady—ready for whatever life would throw into them.
Somehow when I—virtually a child myself—saw these hands, I was innately and immediately aware that they gave away a secret—that you, like a puppy, were not yet grown into your full self.
Even then your fingers were already large yet strangely delicate—letting me know that you were that rare and coveted blend of athlete, artist and thinker (another initial piece of private knowledge that has never let me down).
And then I’m back in our house, with you in the pink princess sheets, and I watch as you shift onto your broad, strong back, seemingly wide awake. (I can see your eyes blink open and closed a few times in the dark.)
She wakes too and you pull her close, into the crook of your shoulder where my head has always fit perfectly, nestled and protected and loved.
What are you thinking about? What’s keeping you awake? I wonder. Me? I can’t help but girlishly, childishly, selfishly hope.
Then I see her eyes also blink open and closed in the dark, and you reach over to stroke her tender, pink cheek with your capable hands.
I reflect on the many times that those very hands have held me, keeping me close, helping me cross through so many of my own life’s obstacles safely, and I’m both relieved and glad that she has these same hands to hold—even as I realize that this means they are less available for me, your first baby.
No matter how hard I try, I’m always still part-needy child mixed in with grown woman-mother.
I curl into a tight ball, facing your sleeping images—I’ve been watching you on her video monitor, you see and I finally click it off—and close my eyes, grateful.
And I am truly grateful, more than anything, for a man who is strong and capable—strong enough, as it turns out, to hold two ladies in his broad and steady heart.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
Photo: via Pinterest