I can hear the laughter through my closed door, over my music. It's that kind of guttural belly laugh that makes people stop in their tracks, a grin spreading across their face. Because you can't NOT smile at a child laugh. It's so innocent, so completely pure, so in the moment that it takes you back to your own childhood. That's the sound I hear coming from the living room as I'm settling in for an hour to work. And I'm immediately grinning.
I married one of the good guys. You know the ones, you see them out in public, completely attuned to the needs of their wives, their families. From the moment we started dating, I knew Brandon was one of the good ones. My friends knew he was one of the good ones. My family knew he was one of the good ones. There was never a question of that. I lucked out. I married a man who puts my needs above his own, who does everything in his power to make me smile, who kisses my forehead every morning before he leaves for work while I'm still sleeping. I never wondered if he would be a good husband. It was just a known fact. Brandon is a good husband.
Parenthood can be a different thing, though. Suddenly you're not catering to a (mostly) rational human being. You're dealing with a child. And children scream, cry and get angry for seemingly no reason. They are wild, unpredictable, and a lot of work. But I still knew in my heart that Brandon would be good at this, too.
When Henry was born, things were hard - as any new parent will tell you. He had reflux that originally went undiagnosed, he was constantly sick from daycare, he had ear infection after ear infection, he didn't sleep through the night for the first 13 months of his life. He was tough. He was a smiling, happy baby. But he was still tough.
It was tough on Brandon and I. I think we had more fights during that first year than we ever had. But it was more out of frustration and just not knowing, than about anything else. We were both struggling through lack of sleep, lack of knowledge, and it felt like there was no end in sight. But even through all of that, Brandon continued to be a good husband and a good dad.
He got up in the middle of the night nearly every night - even once he went back to work - just so that I could get extra sleep. While I nursed, he asked what he could do, or what he could get me. He fell asleep with Henry on his chest in the rocking chair more times than I can count so that I could have a little peace to take a shower or get some much needed rest. He fed him, he changed diapers, he cleaned up vomit - all of those things a parent should do, he did, and it was never a question that he wouldn't. I've had girlfriends whose husbands assumed that was all "women's work", but that was never a thought that passed through Brandon's head.
Brandon is a good man.
And these days, as Henry has gotten older, the good dad has turned into a great dad. He's chasing Henry around the house with a blanket tied around his neck, fashioned like a cape. He's sitting on the floor putting together puzzle after puzzle. He's encouraging Henry to be brave when Henry throws himself off the couch into Brandon's arms. He's teaching him how to stand just so to really knock that baseball off the tee. He's praising Henry as he swims to him in the pool. And he's comforting him when Henry's three-year-old-ness catches up with him and he has a meltdown for no reason. He is there for all of it. Through all of the really high highs and the really low lows of parenting, Brandon is there for it. He is a great dad.