I don’t know where I heard it, but it’s always stuck in my mind:

“Marry a man who will make a good father.”

Ever since I met my husband in Yellowstone National Park that day, I knew he liked children. My little sister was just 1-year-old at the time, and though 13-year-old Merritt and I never exchanged anything but shy smiles, he talked to my baby sister and made faces at her as I pushed her in a stroller down the boardwalks of Yellowstone. I took such notice that I wrote to a cousin about how good this boy Merritt was with my baby sister. And a few mental notes were made for “someday.”

As we got to know his family better, and spent time visiting each other’s homes, I had ample opportunity to observe Merritt’s ability with kids, as he was an older brother himself. One picture is forever etched in my mind: he was kneeling down, holding the 4-year-old’s hand, patiently explaining why one should not run in the house.

It was easy to picture this laid-back man as a patient father. Of my children. He would so well balance out my impatient tendencies. We would make a good team. And all our children would have curly hair…

The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.

“The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”

I married Merritt for a lot more than his curls and his ability with children. But when we were there at the doctor’s office together, filling out forms and answering questions, I realized how much I had to be thankful for as the nurse glanced at the next question, looked at Merritt sitting there by me, and stated, “And the father is obviously supportive.”

Yes, from the moment I woke him up at 4 a.m. to tell him the pregnancy test was positive, he has shared my joys, and held me as I cried from exhaustion. He held my hand as I walked into a new doctor’s office. He sat there with me as we saw our baby for the first time on the ultrasound. And we both pleaded ignorance to how our baby could have gotten the stubborn genes, when the nurse had such difficulty getting the baby to stay in one position for a picture.

When for a month I had never been so exhausted in my life, nor had to eat so much so often to keep from being sick, and we were in the middle of spring planting, Merritt was there for me. Sending me to bed as soon as we got home. Making supper and doing dishes every night. Mopping the floor and washing windows while I was at work. And even making custard, cookies, and cheesecake, without any help, while I took naps. I had never felt so helpless, nor so loved.

When we all got the flu, I celebrated my first Mother’s Day with a bowl of Top Ramen noodles my husband made me. (Next year, I’m hoping for steak and potatoes–but Top Ramen had never tasted so good.) And when I finally started feeling more like myself, he was the first to rejoice that “he had his wife back.”

Marry a man who will make a good daddy.

Now he’s there to kiss my tummy and agree that yes, I’m getting fat. And yes, it’s cute. And yes, that dress still fits. And even though I manage to do most of the cooking these days, Merritt still sends me to bed while he does the dishes every night.

And every morning, he is there to hold my hand and pray with me. And when he prays for “our baby”, I get so teary-eyed that when it’s my turn to pray, I can only say, “Dear Lord, thank You so much for my husband…”

Photography: JenniMarie Photography