Let’s face it: without our men, none of us would be mothers.

This time last year, I dedicated a full week leading up to Mother’s Day to celebrate all the Moms in my life: friends, my mother-in-law, my grandmother, my mom, and the moms who – for whatever reason – have lost a child.

So this year I’d like to look at motherhood from another angle and dedicate this blog post to my husband, the father of my children.

Dear Richard, Thank you for Rachel and Stephen. They are the joy of my life. True, if I hadn’t married you I would never have known them and in essence would not have the capacity to miss them. But I can’t for one second imagine my life without them. My children are my heartbeat.

Thank you for being patient with me as a single mom and for understanding that Alex and I came as a package deal. I think you may actually have loved him before you loved me. And I’m ok with that. Thank you for being there when you didn’t have to be. And for sharing that freezing sink full of ice cold water after the firecracker accident. Thank you for making vacations fun and for your quick, strong arms when Alex tried to jump out of the boat!

You stared in disbelief at the card I gave you announcing that you were going to be a daddy (both times). You endured my morning sickness (which always hit around dinnertime), my emotional breakdowns and outbursts, my cravings (cheese pizza with green olives), my ever-expanding backside, and my labor. For all your jokes about a man’s place not being in the delivery room, you were right beside me to deliver both of our beautiful children.

You’ve helped me relax and appreciate eating popcorn on the sofa and leaving the beds unmade. You’ve shown by example the importance of being at every practice, every game, every doctor’s appointment, every parent-teacher conference, and every performance or competition. You’ve been a friend to our children’s friends and always made them feel comfortable and welcome in our home. You’ve encouraged our kids to expand their world by trying new foods, going new places, and being friendly and kind to everyone.

You make our children laugh, you tell them daily that you love them, and you shower them with genuine affection. You challenge them, encourage them to push a little further, try a little harder, and you celebrate every victory as if it were your own. Our mattress may be destroyed, but our kids hold wonderful memories of having an indoor trampoline on the ‘big bed’.

And in spite of the train wreck that was my first marriage, it would be shameful for me not to thank him for my first-born, Alex. I cut my “parenting teeth” on Alex and although there were many challenges it was Alex who gave me the strength, courage, and motivation to carry on. When I became a single mom, Alex brought a smile to my face and warmed my heart when no one else could. He taught me to be careful with my words and generous with my affection. Alex taught me to love with abandon, to trust when all the odds are stacked against you, and that the most important thing about falling is to get up again. Alex gave birth to the Mama Bear in me and renewed the wonder of Christmas morning.

So for Mother’s Day I say thank you for the privilege and blessing of being a mom. Without you, I would never have heard the sweetest words to echo through the Universe and into my heart: “I love you, Mommy.”