The other night I sat around the dinner table with my husband and four of our closest friends — two other couples who welcomed babies shortly after we did. Being all about a year out from childbirth, I asked my two girlfriends what stands out to them as the most impactful thing anyone did for them during the early days of parenthood.
Immediately we began reminiscing about the late-night text messages with other new moms, the ongoing support from our friends, the love and encouragement we received from each other, the care packages left on our doorsteps, the lactation support groups that gave us hope, and so much more. While no one at the table had it easy — far from it most days — there was no denying that we had a village to support us and that we returned the love tenfold.
I then asked the men at the table the same question. Aside from them all appreciating an extra hand to wash dishes or to cook dinner, there wasn’t much else. No supportive text messages. No one checking in on them. No one leaving them care packages. No support groups. Nothing. And up until this conversation, they’d never even thought twice about it.
These men — my husband top of the list — are three of the best dads I know. They are phenomenal husbands, amazing fathers, successful professionals, and outspoken about how much they love their families.
In fact, our friend and family group is composed almost entirely of this type of man. And yet, even in the strongest circles, we — the collective we of society — aren’t even coming close to supporting and acknowledging fathers in a way that recognizes their important and irreplaceable role in the family structure.
Yes, we as moms undeniably have the hardest and arguably the most important roles throughout pregnancy and the early years and we deserve every bit of the support we receive and so much more. And now more than ever, we are finally being surrounded with platforms of empowerment that should’ve been given to us long ago.
But to my husband, and every partner out there whose actions go unseen or are marked as less important, I want you to know that you are seen too. Your role, no matter how small, tedious or repetitive it seems some days, matters significantly.
So to my husband who has sacrificed so much, I see you.
I see the thankless hours you’ve spent staying up late sanitizing bottles and the coffee you leave on my nightstand every morning so I can have my first sip without getting out of bed.
I see the loads of laundry you’ve folded and the dinners you lovingly make every night.
I see the smoothie you leave for me in the fridge before you leave for work at 6:15 a.m. and the full tank of gas in my car each Sunday.
I see the late nights you’ve spent staying up with me while I nurse our daughter and the back tickles you still give me every night as I fall asleep.
I see the trips up and down the stairs at all hours of the day to refill my water and the smile on your face when I ask for the millionth time.
I see the way you loved over me while I carried our baby and how you genuinely would’ve done anything to make me comfortable.
I see the doctor’s appointments you never missed and the way you teared-up every time you heard our daughter’s heartbeat.
I see the fire in your heart that shows me there is nothing in this world you wouldn’t do for our family.
I see the way you love our daughter, and the way you give her all the good in you and so much more.
I see your silliness and sweetness, and I see your childlike spirit and [fiercely] protective nature in all that you do for her.
I see the way you see me. From baby bump to stretch marks, I’ve doubted myself plenty but I’ve never doubted that you love me for me and that you find me irresistible — even in the rawest of moments. I see your compassion toward me and the tenderness in which you have embraced this beautiful, emotional, and messy stage of life together.
I see your commitment to supporting your family and the pain you experienced when you had to return back to work just days after our daughter was born. I see the letter you wrote [to] your company advocating for a paternity leave policy and how eloquently you expressed the importance of fathers being present in their children’s lives from an early age. I see that despite a broken system, you won’t let anything get in the way of what you value most.
I see your loneliness, and your longing to find connection in parenthood outside of just our relationship.
I see a husband and father who does not fit media’s mediocre standard of fatherhood — you are a person who has risen above any and all societal expectations to put family on the highest pedestal and to flip the conversation. I see you lead others in making the exception the norm and I see you wear fatherhood as a badge of honor.
Partners, I see you.
While not every father is deserving of praise and many mothers take on the role of mother and father, the picture of fatherhood is changing for the better. In a world that is giving moms a voice and long overdue support and recognition, let’s not forget to empower fathers too. The emotions and experience may be different, but the importance is the same and our children will be better for it.
To my husband, I am strong on my own, but I am so much stronger with you by my side.
I see you, my love.
This post originally appeared at Mother.ly, published with permission.