I held my breath as they took the first ultrasound. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but when they delivered the news, I was sure it was what we needed.

A boy.

My heart leaped with excitement, and I looked over at your proud fatherly smile. My love for you swelled and expanded as I daydreamed about our new family. I gazed in your beautiful green eyes and saw your eagerness to father this little boy. I looked at your soft, blonde hair, your strong jawline, and that cute little divot on your ear and thought,

“I hope he turns out just like you.”

Weeks passed, my belly grew, and we anxiously prepared for the baby to come. As we set up the nursery, I noticed your strong arms assembling the pieces of the crib. I watched your gentle hands hanging pictures on the wall. You glowed with enthusiasm, proud of the home we could provide and hopeful that you would be a good father. I had full confidence in your abilities, despite your nervousness about diaper changes. I knew that your kindness, patience, and love would be more than enough. As I reflected on the strong man by my side and the tiny baby inside me, I thought,

“I hope he turns out just like you.”

After hours of pain and a blur of procedures, our sweet baby boy finally arrived. You held him close and rocked him gently, beaming with pure love. You slowly paced the halls with him at night, singing softly so that I could sleep. You became the swaddling master and the diapering champion, keeping the whole family afloat through a sea of never-ending tears. You held my hand and kissed his forehead, reminding us the true meaning of a man’s love, and I thought,

“I hope he turns out just like you.”

Our son toddled and tumbled as he learned more about the world around him. He mimicked your laugh and mirrored your joy as he discovered the word “Dada.” He reached out for your arms as he took his first steps, but before long he was chasing you through the grass. I watched you scoop him up for a tickle attack before kneeling in prayer and tucking him into bed. As I admired your enthusiasm for life, your example of faith, and your dedication to family, I thought,

“I hope he turns out just like you.”

You showed him the value of work and the importance of love. As soon as he recognized colors, he was sorting laundry by your side. You taught him that men can fix and repair, but they can also cook and clean. They can help neighbors lift boxes or they can bake a warm batch of cookies. You showed him how to admit when he is wrong, and you explained that hugs help people feel better. You taught him to be polite to strangers and smile at everyone. You told him that real men cry sometimes, but they always get back up and keep trying.

As that little boy of ours grows bigger and taller, I see more and more of you in him. I see your strength in his smile and your gentleness in his eyes. I hear your goofiness in his laugh and your kindness in his words. I feel your warmth in his hugs and your love in his cuddles. All the reasons that I married you are now the reasons you make the perfect dad for our little boy.

I peek in as our precious son sleeps. His body and face look like you, but his character does, too. I’m proud of who he’s becoming and pray that it continues. I’m sure he will develop his own unique personality, skills, interests, and ambitions, but in all the important aspects of life,

I hope he turns out just like you.

Julieann Selden

Julieann Selden is a chemistry graduate student and non-profit volunteer. Her husband, Ken, is recently in remission from sarcoma cancer. On her blog, contemplatingcancer.com, she examines the thoughts and emotions of life through the lens of an aggressive cancer diagnosis.