You hold our kite together. 

Dear Jimmy,

Seventeen years ago, when we got married in front of a few people at that church we rented….  neither of us could have ever dreamed what life had prepared ahead of us.  Little did we know that the decision to get pregnant with our first baby was going to be the beginning of some of the most intense years of our life. I peed on the first pregnancy test by myself. The second one, I made you come look at. Then two days later, all hell broke loose when the company I was working for closed its doors.  We went from well-employed to devastatingly un-employed in a matter of minutes.

We had a baby and starting figured out how to make ends meet as a family of three. We started a business and rehabbed a HUD home while you worked overnights at a copy shop. I learned how to make a lot of meals out of a single turkey and what it was going to take to be a work at home mom. That Christmas, we managed to eat steak and give each other gifts while that baby watched from his pumpkin seat. I will never forget watching you grill those steaks on that tiny little Weber grill in the snow.  That baby’s voice is changing now. He takes up the whole couch. I get a little emotional overtime I have to turn around and wonder what strange man is standing in the room with me.  I’m so proud of him.

After the incredible torture of loosing two babies in a row, Oscar happened. As my belly grew, my legs started not to work. We didn’t know that I had serious undiagnosed hip problems, but you still helped me through those nights of intense pain. You put pain patches on my hips. You rubbed my back. You rubbed my belly. You found me a walker. You followed me around and made sure that I didn’t get hurt.  You cried with me while I was in labor and started to wonder how in the world we were going to have the capacity to love two kids.  And when he was born, our capacity suddenly changed.  We couldn’t imagine life without this new little person.  He came home smiling and started torturing his brother as soon as he could crawl and hasn’t stopped being silly since. Somehow, he starts middle school next year. How did we get the privilege of raising such an amazing, funny, kind boy?

A few years later, I will never forget walking out of the bathroom carrying the next positive pregnancy test.  You hugged me while we sat and stared at that pregnancy test on our bed and wondered, white faced, what we were going to do with another baby. Things were so busy.  I was so stressed out with work.  And then life got even more intense when one day I suddenly realized that I might be loosing this baby.  You loved me through weeks of bedrest while we prayed that a subchorionic hemmhorhage would resolve. She lived.  And then, the hip pain started. We made it through that too. We were sure that we were having another boy… then she was a girl. That day she was born, I will never forget that look we exchanged, again white faced, wondering what in the world we were going to do with a girl. One of my favorite memories was the day you noticed the little tiny pink clothes in the clean laundry for the first time.  She was born a tiny little leader and nothing has changed… at all. She’s going to wreck this world someday. And we get to raise her together.

Then there was another seat in the van.  We were pretty sure that it was going to be great to have it filled with someone new, and then Louis happened. Our beautiful bookend. As we watch him grow up, there’s no doubt that he’s going to be our cuddle bug for a while. He’s only three, but he’s a sweet, devastatingly cute little force of nature.

We have a beautiful family that keeps moving because of you. You’ve been my rock while navigating weird stuff. You tell me when people are actually crazy. You tell me who I am when people do mean things. You’re my friend. You put up with it when I actually have to work all night. You remind me to sleep. I’m not good at needing help, but you’re good at just doing the things that need to get done.

I love you. I love them. So much. I’m glad we are together, that you are a present and amazing dad, and that our kids think you’re awesome. It’s easy to be a jerk who fathered a few kids. It’s not so easy to be an amazing dad… and you are one.

Happy Father’s Day. I love you!


Jenn is the Founder and CEO of Cotton Babies. She holds an Executive MBA from Washington University. She was awarded Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year award in the Emerging Category for the Central Midwest Region in 2011. Among many other awards, she recently received a 2017 YWCA Leader of Distinction Award for Entrepreneurship. Jenn holds many patents on various inventions in a number of different countries and is listed as one of 50 Missourians You Should Know. She is particularly fascinated by languages, chickens, and children (she has four) when she’s not reading economics journals.

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