Winning the Daddy Lottery

Daddy Mountain
Photo courtesy of Anne Geissinger

When each of my two kids were born, moments after they were placed in my arms, I said to them, “Congratulations, child, you won the Daddy Lottery!” Mary Tyler Dad doesn’t especially like this, but truer words have never been spoken.

On Father’s Day I think about what it means to be a good dad and how lucky me and my kids are.  Gratefully, it’s not nearly as loaded for me as Mother’s Day, nor is it for Mary Tyler Dad.  He doesn’t get tripped up about holidays or significant dates like I do.  He’s calm like that.  But it’s still hard to celebrate Father’s Day when one of your children is not with you.

I knew shortly after I met him that he was different.  We had been out on a few dates, but it wasn’t until our third or fourth date when he talked about a hard time someone close to him had gone through that I stood at attention.  Ding, ding, ding!  The compassion, generosity, and concern he expressed made me take a second look.  He was always handsome, but his eyes became softer after that talk, his hands sturdier, his shoulders broader — this one, I knew, was a keeper.

I was the first to know and understand that we would be husband and wife.  It took Mary Tyler Dad a few years to catch up to me.  I snared him with my wily ways after five years of dating.  He, though, was the first to know and understand that we would be parents together.  I kept putting it off and putting it off and putting it off.   We were in our mid-thirties, both invested in our careers, and had a great life together.  He never pressured me, just gently and persistently brought it into our conversation.  Repeatedly.  Kind of like he’s doing right now with me procrastinating making a dentist appointment.

As I type these words, I am looking out the window, watching him walk up the street with Mary Tyler Son, returning from a morning trip to the park.  Mary Tyler Dad puts in the time.  When he’s tired, he puts in the time.  He understands more than most how fleeting it is.  When he’s busy, he puts in the time.  When he’s got bills to pay and chores to do and projects to manage he puts in the time.  I love that about him.

Donna Running to Daddy
Photo courtesy of Joel Wanek

From day one, bringing Donna home from the hospital for the first time, he proved himself to be the prince among men I knew him to be.  While I nursed both kids through their first year, Mary Tyler Dad would sleepily wake to change their diapers before handing them off to me in the dark for the one thing he could not provide our kids — mother’s milk.

He does laundry and dishes and sews Halloween costumes.  Sews Halloween costumes, people.  He watches too much basketball in June, but that is forgiven as he is not a fan of baseball, hockey, or football.  He sings sweet songs to Mary Tyler Son, remembering all the correct lyrics, rather than the made up ones I cobble together.  He doesn’t flinch when I teach the little one the words to bad pop songs and we have kitchen dance parties to LMFAO. He brings our boy to the sitter on the days I work so I can get in early or do my hair.

Last week Mary Tyler Dad had a business trip to St. Louis for a few nights. He came home and said that sitting all alone in the hotel suite made him sad about how empty his life would be without us.   That broke my heart and filled it to brimming all at the same time.

He is the best father I can imagine for my children.  It is criminal that his daughter was taken from him.  Criminal.  Our world needs clones of Mary Tyler Dad — millions of him putting in the time, sharing their wit and love and generosity and parenting and partnering.  What a world that would be.

Mexico Joy
Photo courtesy of MTM

Happy Father’s Day, Mary Tyler Dad!  I love you more than Coca Cola, cheeseburgers, and chocolate — combined.  xox.

 

Toilet Seats: Good Gift or Not?

I screwed up.  For reals.  On Father’s Day I gifted the best father I know, Mr. Mary Tyler Mom, a toilet seat.  Shame on me. 

Were I to post some sort of defense, I might take this approach:

  • We needed one.  Desperately. 
  • Mr. Mary Tyler Mom is the one who made it so we needed a new one, I’m certain.  My arse is dainty.  And clean.  And only produces roses and lilacs.
  • Father’s Day is less celebratory after you bury a child.  Just like Mother’s Day.  Mid-May through mid-June is just another time of year we endure as we are barraged with shiny, happy moms and dads and explicit ads directing us what to buy them:  ties! diamonds! flowers! golf balls! I’m certain there was a toilet seat ad in there somewheres, right?   

Yeah, were this brought to court, a jury of my peers would surely find me guilty.   I don’t even want to think about what a jury of my husband’s peers would find me.  Forgive me, dear husband.  I definitively failed you on this one.  I knew this when we were standing in line at airport security, a full six days later, and Mr. Mary Tyler Mom, an unusually affable man, made a dig about it.  Ouch.  Again, forgive me.  The thing is, once you spring a toilet seat on someone as a gift, there’s no good way to take it back.  Kind of like poop.  That shit is not going back. 

Sigh.  I meant well.  And we did need one.  And Mr. Mary Tyler Mom has his hands full with work, parenting, dealing with me . . .  This purchase, I thought, was doing him a favor.  Saving him a trip to the Target, then a return trip to the Target when he realized he got the wrong size.  Then a trip to the Lowe’s for the proper size.   Do you even know how much a toilet seat costs these days?  More than a few ties or golf balls, I’ll tell you that. 

So consider me humbled.  I have eaten a heaping bowl of crow.  I am sorry, dear husband, amazing father, best man I know.  Truly.  You deserve much better than a toilet seat.  And next year?  I will do better.  I promise.  xox.