10 Things I Never Thought I Would Be Thankful For

Motherhood

In my 33 years, I have lived a full, exciting adventure of a life. I have had ups and downs, twists and turns, and a lot of unexpected goodness thrown in there, which has made me both a believer in fate and also in God’s plan. The one thing that has shifted the most, through all the excitement over the years, is my perspective. Many of the things I am thankful for these days, I never would have believed 10 years ago! Here are 10 things I am thankful for today:

  1. A full dishwasher at the end of every day. (It means I have 5 mouths to feed besides my own, and those mouths belong to my 5 biggest blessings.)
  2. A big noisy, messy, crazy family of ALL BOYS. (They keep me on my toes and certainly, never bored!)
  3. A husband that I miss terribly because he’s on the road for work a LOT. (It reminds me that I’m married to someone I can’t live without.)
  4. The peaceful time at the end of the day when I get to tidy up the living room, the kitchen, and fold a load of clothes before bed. (I never appreciated that time when it was just little ol’ me, and I certainly didn’t look forward to it.)
  5. A baby who wakes me up between 5:30 and 6:30 every morning. (This is now the best part of my day.)
  6. Coffee. (See number 5.)
  7. A super long grocery list. (It’s no fun buying groceries for just yourself.)
  8. My job. (My amazingly flexible job lets me be a working mama but still allows me to be a good mama. I always dreamed of being a stay-at-home-mom, but now I wouldn’t trade it, I love both of my jobs!)
  9. My divorce. (It turned out to be the open door into what has become the best part of my life.)
  10. Quiet. (I used to hate quiet and had to have music playing at all times – now some quiet here and there is lovely, simply because it is rare.)

Since I titled this list “10 Things I Never Thought I Would Be Thankful For” – I will leave this last one off the official list, but it is noteworthy nonetheless:

I am also thankful for my big, awesome nose! (My ski-jump-esque profile reminds me every day that I am unique, that I have a little extra character, and most importantly – that I am related to some pretty amazing people with noses just like mine.)img_20160610_155615-1.jpg

So for all of you who know me and may have thought to yourselves, man, she would be really pretty if she would just get her nose done – Not happening! I finally have learned to love my nose after all these years of hating it, (even if it does have its own zip code.) I used to hope Hank would keep his adorable little button nose he inherited from his handsome daddy, but honestly I will be equally thrilled if he ends up with a big amazing beak like his mama. I am sure he will rock it even better than I do.

Like I said before, it’s all about perspective!

I Get to Call Him Daddy Now, Too

We Are In This Together

I always felt weird calling my husband “Bill” when I talked about him to his boys. It felt so formal. I didn’t feel comfortable referring to him as “Dad” though, either, like they did, because I wasn’t “Mom.” To them anyways. They already had a Mom, and I have always been perfectly happy being “Step-mom” or “Dad’s wife” to them (although they usually just call me Erika). I like that more than “Step-mom” anyways; Step-mom just has such an awful stigma to it. Thanks a lot, Disney movies, and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, for making us all wicked! (Even though some of us are really nice!)

I realize I am the only one in my modern family who probably gives any thought to what we call each other. But I did for a long time, (probably from all the step-family parenting books I read back when I was dating Bill which TOLD me I should think about it,) and so I settled into referring to him as “your dad” to the boys. Not Dad, not Bill, but your dad.

Hey guys, where’s your dad?

Or – Yeah, you better ask your dad about that.

But then Hank the Tank came along.

Suddenly, I was Mom. Hank’s mom. And Bill was no longer their dad, he was suddenly just Dad. No more possessive pronouns in our house. And I had no idea how much that one little grammatical change would mean to me.

Being able to refer to my husband as Daddy is one of the biggest privileges I have had the honor of experiencing in our marriage. It’s a whole new level of awesome – being this much of a team. He is that much more my best friend now. Of course, hearing that wonderful man, and our amazing little boy, call me Mama is music to my ears and an honor as well. I wasn’t sure I would ever get to be anyone’s mama, so now I am savoring it!

This Father’s Day will be a special one. Last June, we were still in the post-partum tailspin and I don’t even remember processing the fact that Bill was now suddenly Daddy again, or how this time, I was in on the deal. I am not even sure that I remembered to get him a card. But the past 13 months have been life-changing for me. And since I have had some time to think about things other than when the baby needs fed next, or if I will ever get any sleep ever again, the true significance of this upgrade to our relationship is sinking in.

My first Father’s Day with Bill was an odd one, because I hadn’t even met his boys yet at that point. He was still sizing me up, making sure what we had was built for the long haul; that I was good enough for his remarkable children. But I already loved that man fiercely, so I felt like I needed to celebrate his fatherhood somehow. I bought him a funny card and what I thought was the most perfect gift – a set of Star Wars pancake molds and a batter bottle so he could make the world’s most awesome pancakes for them. And in doing so – I thought maybe he would be even a little bit more perfect in their eyes. They were obsessed with everything Star Wars, so I figured it would be a slam dunk.

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May the force be with you

My dad makes us Darth Vader pancakes. Can your dad do that?

It worked. He sent me a text with a picture of the most adorable Yoda-shaped pancake that Father’s Day morning, so my heart swelled for him. He was proud of his culinary masterpiece and told me about how cool the boys thought it was! (In hindsight, I probably could have skipped the batter bottle though, as I later discovered that it had been re-purposed into a bath toy.)

“Please tell me this doesn’t go back and forth between bath water and pancake batter, does it?” I asked him when I saw it sitting on his bathtub ledge a few weeks later. He said no. I think I believed him.

Giving Bill Father’s Day cards in the years that followed – once I had actually gotten to know his boys – still seemed important but always felt more like a back pat, like I was simply telling him good job at being a good daddy to his own kids. I couldn’t thank him for what he was doing like a mom would – appreciating his help raising kids together – because they weren’t my kids. It wasn’t my place to thank him.

It is also hard to find an appropriate Father’s Day card, I later found, when you are married to a dad but you are not the mother of his children. (Apparently Hallmark needs a card writer who is a step-mom! I may have to look into that for a side gig!) I have spent hours scanning over cards in the ‘To My Husband’ area of the aisle, reading the messages and putting them all back, frustrated.

Dear Hubby, Thanks for not messing up our kids too much! Haha. . .nope.

To the Father of Our Children. . .no again.

To My Loving Husband on Father’s Day. . .Ok this sounds promising, until I read the four flowing cursive stanzas inside about (yet again), being the father of our precious children.

Happy Father’s Day, Good job raising those kids of yours!  Love, Your wife, (Even though she’s not their mom).

Said no card, ever.

So, once I finally give up on the ‘To My Husband’ department and enter the generic ‘Dad’ card aisle, I have these remaining options: Dad the Super-hero, Dad the amazing golfer, or Dad-champion of burping/farting/drinking beer/changing the TV channel in the La-Z-Boy. You know, the classy Father’s Day cards.

That said – by the grace of God, this year is different. I DO have a new appreciation for him, because we are finally in this together. We are equal parts Hank’s parents. I can finally grab one of those Father’s Day cards that reads like Mom high-fiving Dad. Because I am finally Mom, and he is (still) Dad. But not just his kids’ dad. He is our kid’s dad now, too. Just Dad. And I finally do get to say thanks (with all my heart!) and not just good job. I owe him the moon and the stars, for giving me the gift of our son. He is kind to him, patient with him, funny, loving, sensitive, and strong – everything a Daddy needs to be. Hank is completely enamored with his Daddy. And I am so grateful for this simple fact: Along with all the joys that come with my new shared role as a parent with my husband, I get to call him Daddy now, too.Daddy reading to Hank