I never thought about being a father beyond the distant, commonplace, “Sure I want kids” box one checks on their list of life goals. Jenny and I never even made a conscious decision to have a kid. We had talked about it, she really wanted one, and I rebuffed, and it went like that for a little while. We were living in Minneapolis, 500 miles away from our families, not making enough money, we just weren’t ready. I told myself we weren’t ready. Couldn’t do it. And then one summer afternoon something in my caveman brain took over and I said OK. OK we can roll the dice and see what happens. I don’t know what came over me. I still don’t know, but I bet Jenny will tell you that the spirit of our unborn daughter had something to do with it, and after spending the last year and a half with Rosie I am inclined to agree. Something unreal took over and we got a little miracle.
But all kids are miracles, aren’t they? And your own kids are always the most special ones. The meant-to-be ones. Couples tend to talk about kids in an abstract way without ever being fully prepared for the amount of devastation they will do to your life and worldview. Fathering is total annihilation in the best way. I used to be a total asshole and now I can only be a little bit of an asshole because I have to help this tiny person understand how to not be an asshole. It’s a beautiful thing.
The thing I wasn’t prepared for was how much I would like being a father. I remember coming home from the hospital with Rosie and, after getting settled in, going to Target for some groceries/weird post-pregnancy requests from Jenny. It was the first time I was apart from my family and I kept thinking to myself, “I’m someone’s dad!” and beaming. I was so proud of that, I still am. Every single day. It’s barely speakable how much I love this little girl.
Mondays are my day to watch Rosie while Jenny works her 9 to 5, and they’re the best days. I wake up and make Rosie and Jenny breakfast. Jenny leaves for work and Rosie and I play in the toy room upstairs and I listen to the latest episode of the Indoor Kids podcast and drink my coffee. If it’s nice out we go outside and look at the cows in the pasture next door. If it’s really nice out I’ll pull out the wagon and haul Rosie up to the chicken coop and the barn to see Bart the barn cat. Then I put her down for a nap. She refuses to sleep in the crib so I’ll lay her down and usually take a nap with her. Then we have lunch, play in the living room, watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse or Doc McStuffins and she will dance to all the songs. Then more toy room and then another nap if I’m lucky. And then more toy room or living room activity until Jenny comes home and I make dinner.
It’s totally exhausting and every day I feel like Rosie and I come through a little bit closer, and that is worth more to me than any paycheck or creative satisfaction. Being a dad is what does it for me. I’ve spent my whole life trying to figure out what I wanted to do and I’ve never had an answer until now.