Forget the engagement rings, the weddings and the grand events of romanticized love that occur before getting married. The real test of true love begins later, when that first kid arrives. If your spouse is doing any of the following, you’re in happily ever after:
1. 24-hour pharmacy runs. Your husband runs out at 10 PM on a weeknight to hit up a 24-hour pharmacy to buy you tampons, diapers for the baby and a gallon of whole milk. He remembered to take a picture on his phone of your unexpectedly empty tampon box so that he knows to get the kind with the plastic applicator that has a mix of both maximum and regular protection.
2. Emergency puke cleaner. You’ve decided to take a car ride somewhere with the baby in tow. This adventure required assembling an army of supplies such as the stroller, diaper bag, car seat, snacks, changes of clothes, bottles, water, diapers, wipes, pacifiers, your wallet, your phone, keys to your home, sunblock and bibs. You’ve probably had five arguments by the time you’re ready to go because no doubt you’re a) sweating, b) late, and c) rushing before the baby’s next poop or feeding.
Everyone is ready and FINALLY, baby is placed in her car seat in the back seat, buckled and you’re off. 30 seconds into your ride, baby throws up her latest bottle of milk all over herself, the car seat and your pants. You stop the car. Everything is removed and plans are canceled. You’re in charge of cleaning off baby which is a relatively simple job once she’s stripped down and placed in the bath. Husband is charged with collecting the regurgitated milk chunks out of the car seat. He will then take the whole car seat apart to eliminate the sour milk smell that haunts your nostrils for days.
3. Meal planner. You come home from a hard day of work. Dinner has already been planned out and is in the process of being made (or warmed up). The table is set. All you have to do is show up.
4. Live-in occasional housekeeper. Without having to even ask, the kitchen trash has been taken out, the dirty bottles, coffee mugs and cereal bowls have been placed in the dishwasher and the dog has been fed and walked.
5. Reality TV co-appreciator. He has stopped protesting the fact that Monday nights are devoted to watching, “The Bachelor,” (except if it ever conflicts with Monday Night Football). Instead of complaining, he’s kept an open mind and now chimes in when something “dramatic” happens. He secretly loves it as much as you do, but will never EVER admit it, which is fine because otherwise it’s compromising his manhood.
6. Hero. When you ask him to take over on a particularly difficult night with an exhausted and testy toddler, he does so happily. You then overhear him singing, “Twinkle twinkle little star,” for the 50th time that day because that toddler just started speaking and “Up above…” is her first two word phrase that she enjoys saying repeatedly.
7. He’s ok with you being an occasional slob. Your home looks like a bomb went through it at the end of each day. The floor is a perfectly acceptable place to put semi-dirty clothes because some nights, you’re just too damn tired to decide whether those clothes belong in the laundry or can be salvaged for another wear. There’s not enough room to put the clothes into an already unorganized heap of clothes in the drawer that haven’t been worn in months – just tossed around. Your spouse understands and will continue to pile up your clothes that block the hallways and get left on the coffee table in the living room.
8. He understands that parenthood comes with semi-absentmindedness. You’ve locked yourself out of the apartment or forgotten your keys for the third time in 3 months. You don’t see the need to carry a separate set of keys since most times, you’re out with him and he always has keys. He will come back from whatever he’s doing and let you in and rarely give you a lecture about carrying your own set.
9. He knows you really well. He doesn’t get mad when the TV series that you’ve got queued up on your DVR is ready to go, you’ve been waiting all day to watch it together and 10 minutes in – you’re fast asleep. Your attempts to stay awake or tell him, “I’m just resting my eyes,” do not fool him. He forces you to go to bed and won’t watch without you.
10. Self-motivated tough love. He decides to go on a diet / exercise routine because getting healthy is important for both himself and his family.
11. He requests alone time with you. He gest upset when it’s been more than two weeks without a date night. He enjoys planning these out and choosing a restaurant or destination to escape with you.
12. He was made to be a Daddy. When you plop your bouncing, wide-awake, chirping toddler on his belly at 6:30 AM on a Sunday, he’s willing to tickle her, kiss her baby dolls and do the hand gestures to “Itsy Bitsy Spider” without a hint of annoyance.
13. A masseur when you need one. He will rub your back when it’s sore, scratch the itch you can’t reach back there and even massage your feet if you ask nicely. You’d do it right back for him.
14. A family man. When figuring out where to settle down for the long haul, he considers a home that could potentially have space for your parents, should they become too elderly to live on their own down the road.
15. He’s a true partner even when you have no idea what you’re doing as parents. He still holds open doors, holds your hand and steals a kiss now and then, even though he’s seen you extremely pregnant, dealt with going into labor and you’ve been entirely sleep deprived and in a constant semi-panic that your shared toddler will accidentally kill herself by choking on a nail clipper, pulling down a bookshelf onto her tiny body or sticking her fingers into an electric socket. Often the days blur together into survival mode until that little perfect person you created has gone to sleep.