This was the guy who, on our first date, offered these two winning remarks:
"Marriage is a rotten institution and I'm never going to do it again."
"I've never even considered being a parent. I really don't want to be a dad."
[Go ahead, say it: they had a second date…why?]
Call it women's intuition, but somehow I knew he would change his tune about marriage and propose one day. We've been married for 11 years now. That part? Easy. Wonderful.
When it came to the disparate parenting goals, things weren't so simple for us. I married him knowing the parenthood dream would likely remain mine alone. We talked gently and emotionally about it at times. Always we agreed: we have different feelings, so no. Both people have to want to be parents to go forward.
I hoped my sense of loss would ease with time. And I remained thankful for what I had with this wonderful man.
Then one day, we had a talk that changed both of our lives.
He told me he saw the sadness behind my smile some days. He studied my face as I watched children, seeing the quiet longing that remained. It hurt him, and led him to start digging deeper about why he was reticent to be a parent.
He considered some of the twists and turns of his childhood. He began to ask different questions. He replayed the meaningful moments he had experienced with his own father before his passing. I could feel his thoughts and feelings had shifted.
I remember telling him that day that he spent a lot of time naming the reasons why he didn't feel he had "the right stuff" to be a dad, but I knew him, loved him, and had a good take on things a child needs. I knew in my heart that he would make a child feel unconditionally loved, safe and protected. I knew this because he had offered me these very gifts.
Our parenthood journey was neither simple nor straightforward, but it was now a shared dream that came true. After years of efforts, we became adoptive parents to a beautiful 3-day-old baby girl.
These days, I love watching my 53-year-old husband and our five-year-old daughter in the mornings. While I am bleary eyed, trudging through the kitchen, unable to speak, they are the chipper morning team, chattering away on all manner of topics. And when daddy leaves for work, they hug and then share a goodbye ritual. Maya races to wave goodbye through the glass kitchen door first, then races down the hallway to wave goodbye through a second glass door. I look at my husband through the kitchen window. He is waiting patiently in the courtyard for her to appear at the second door. They wave and giggle and call out to each other, both of them needing that second goodbye.
We are a great team as parents, but my husband deserves all the extra credit points: for being brave, for taking the leap and making such a profound, loving life choice.