She smiles, and I take a picture, and I tell her how beautiful she is, and days later I find myself scrolling through my phone, soaking in the random memories I’ve managed to capture of my daughter, Madison. But the other day, my wife Allison was on my mind, and I ran my thumb up and down the screen rolling through endless rows and columns of Madison, looking for a picture of her mother to stare at. There are very few pictures of her on my phone. There are very few pictures of her within my Instagram gallery, and there are very few posts pertaining to her on my blog. Granted those places are more about Madison, but there would be an injustice in documenting bits and pieces of our lives if I didn’t acknowledge one of the most important parts of us.
I said once before, if my daughter can be defined as the heart of our home, then my wife is the pulse that runs through it. She keeps us going, she keeps me wanting to be the best man I can be and hardly ever receives the credit of doing so. Being absent in the pictures we have isn’t because she wasn’t there when they were taken; it’s because she steps aside. She steps outside the frame and lets our daughter have the spotlight. She steps behind the lens to capture the moments herself… of Madison, of Madison and myself. She steps aside and puts us first and, as any mother can relate, she does so because she loves us. She chooses to put herself last and, sadly, I’ve subconsciously adopted that mindset.
Admittedly, there have been days, maybe even weeks, where I’ve failed to compliment her as I should or acknowledge her place in our home or the load she carries with us, for us. Our days are littered with praise and adoration for the little girl we’re raising together, and once her head hits the pillow, we give into the exhaustion of parenthood and full-time jobs and maintaining a home. And while we thank God for it all every night before our eyes close, I don’t thank her enough. With her, I spread the love thin, taking for granted the investment I’ve made over the years. Meanwhile, I lay it on thick with my daughter in hopes to deposit enough to build her confidence, to help her face the world with her head held high.
I found the picture above in my phone, one of the few with my wife in it, and I realized I was enabling her. Somewhere along the way, I accepted her choice to stand on the outside instead of encouraging her to stand beside us as a part of the bigger picture. When Madison looks back on all the images from this time in our lives, I don’t want her to question where her mother was, because she’s with us every step of the way. There’s no other place she’d rather be. While I tell my daughter what I love about her, Allison still makes time to do the same for me. If this picture proves anything, it’s that I’m not doing that for her, and that’s changing immediately because this journey without her as my co-pilot wouldn’t be nearly as exciting.
This photo isn’t cropping her out, it wasn’t edited that way; I did that unintentionally when I took it because I knew she wouldn’t want to be in it. I knew she would look back and ask why I didn’t ask her to move or manage to compliment Madison instead of herself… which is fine, that’s her prerogative, and I’m guilty of the same crime when I see myself. However, if she’s not going to acknowledge how necessary and beautiful and important she is to this family then I’ll do it, I should be doing it, because I’ll be damned if it goes unnoticed.
After all, the greatest thing any father can do for his daughter is to love her mother, and I love her more than words could ever describe. Sure, she’s the mother of my child… but she was my wife first.