To the wives, the girlfriends, the mothers . . . we haven’t said these three simple words often enough:
We see you.
Mothers of our children: we watch as you push grief to the side and take the lead at the moment of diagnosis.
You run like a prized thoroughbred, determined to secure therapies, counselors, and doctors.
Searching for the opportunities that will ensure a better life for our babies, despite the chaos. You are miracle workers, moving mountains by sheer will, even when we, the husbands and boyfriends, feel like giving up, rolling our eyes, and flopping on the couch to play Xbox.
Not you, though. You’ll never give up.
You carried this baby in your belly, so when the only way is through, we’ve already seen how you persevere.
We see you isolated.
When you are feeling alone.
When you are feeling helpless.
When the stress is overwhelming, the challenges are all-consuming, and there are no easier answers.
In those awful moments, our hearts ache for you. Your tears are agonizing for us. Your grief stays in our thoughts, even when we leave for the office or the garage.
Remember at the core, we are really just simple guys. We instinctively want to comfort, to soothe, to fix. We want to put a Band-Aid on it, and make it better.
Unfortunately, there are days when no medicine can heal the wound other than time.
We see you frustrated.
Having to be both a student and teacher of special needs. Having to take on roles unfamiliar and unexpected. Being the first to sacrifice.
We see you crying, screaming, fighting.
Standing across from us, in the real-life moments that no one else can understand.
The heated disagreements.
The many, many, MANY times we were completely wrong, and refused to say so or didn’t adapt to sudden changes with the same grace and dexterity.
We see you.
It may not be said as often as it should, because some of us were brought up with ultra-traditional role expectations. We were raised to be tough guys. We were the providers, the hunters, the patriarchs. And though the world has changed considerably, old habits can be hard to break. That includes finding the words—remembering to say “thanks for what you do every day.”
The simple truth is, for some of us, the words just don’t come easy.
We see you ignoring your own needs.
We see you putting self-care on the back burner, skipping a workout or coffee with friends because our children require an IEP meeting that day.
Pushing your health to the side.
Waiting and waiting patiently over the course of the average day for a moment where you can just take a breath.
We see you pro bono lawyer.
Advocating for our child, often having to fight the very people and entities who are tasked with helping us.
We see you having to fistfight education systems like a schoolyard bully. Confronting unprecedented cultural ignorance, ambivalent politicians, perfecto parents trying to intervene during a Target meltdown, overworked counselors, callous governments, understaffed principals, and professionals that won’t listen.
We see you overwhelmed. We see you scared. We see you uncertain of the future.
Guardianship. Wills and trusts.
We want to hold you and reassure you.
Reaffirm that it will all be OK.
We see you circus juggler.
Struggling to find the balance—managing the tasks that must be completed and the thoughts that race through your brain daily:
It’s career . . . no, it’s therapy . . . no wait, there’s no time for that today because there’s a proposal due at 8 . . . no, there’s a dinner that needs to be cooked . . . wait, the minivan needs work so it has to go to the shop . . . but THAT’S THE MONEY FOR THE DENTIST!!
And along the way, I had better find some time to be intimate with him. I have to put the kids in bed first, but of course, they won’t sleep again.
Will we be able to go somewhere as a family successfully this weekend? Plan. Plan. Plan.
I need to make a list of all the phone calls and appointments I need to make, the bills we have to pay . . . need a post-it for my post-it . . . there are so many things to remember.
I need to call my mom. Check in on my friends. Zoom. I need some me time.
And what time is Grey’s Anatomy on?
Can you ALL get out of my house for just 10 minutes please before I go insane?
We see you sexy bride, gorgeous girlfriend, sensual partner.
We see you, even when you’re 40, where 20 is a distant memory and routines are feeling stale and positively exhausting.
But, to us, you’ve never been more attractive.
Your smile, your eyes, your intelligence. From the way that you walk to the way you can captivate a room with stories of tapioca pudding being thrown all over the walls.
How other men and women notice when you discuss trying to balance a career, ABA, and the best recipe for homemade lasagna.
Even though you may not be able to see it, or feel it as you once did, to us you’re the epitome of beauty.
We see you, sexy as hell, alluring, ravishing, voluptuous, sultry and perfect, sprawled across the bed fast asleep, because at the end of a very long day, sometimes there’s just nothing left except . . . Zzzzzzzzzzz.
We see you.
The good days and the bad days, the heartaches and the triumphs.
We see you.
And, we love you.