I’ve faced many obstacles as a new dad, and I have triumphed over all of them.
I have evolved from a clumsy, bumbling, cro-magnon man who flinched at the slightest baby cry, to a warm, empathetic, and caring father who is now there for his daughter, rain or shine.
We have spent thousands of hours together in the past 3 1/2 years, just her and I, exploring parks and museums and libraries, hiking in the wilderness, shopping at Safeway, Target, IKEA, the mall, participating in swimming, soccer, music, dance, and gymnastics classes, relaxing on the beach, riding BART and the ferry, feeding the pigeons, spending time together at preschool.
I know her better than any other human being on this planet. Our bond is unshakable. We are tight.
And yet, if given the choice, she will choose her mommy over me. When we go somewhere as a family, Maddie and mom are suddenly the best of buds and I feel like the odd man out, quite literally. After all those hours I’ve spent gaining her trust, I am casually cast aside like an empty beer can, or a half-empty tin of SPAM. I feel used. When I’m tired, this can be SO frustrating. I have a hard time letting go, and soon I find myself competing for my daughter’s attention. I become madly possessive and jealous.
I understand this now. I didn’t always.
Having been a stay-at-home dad for 3 1/2 years now, I am confident enough in my role as primary caregiver to appreciate the sacrifices mothers make for their children, in mind, body and spirit. It’s a wonderful thing to have, this feeling of autonomy as a parent, knowing that you can handle it on your own, but also knowing when to ask for help.
I love my mom more than anyone in the world. It’s only natural. So why shouldn’t Maddie?
It’s ok, honey. I’ll always be here if you need me. Now pass the SPAM, will ya’?