Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Delighted and Complete

I heard the door crack, followed by the soft-puttering of my oldest's feet. It's our daily ritual...I pull the covers over my head, while he straddles my torso and bounces.

It's a bit unorthodox, but it works for us.

He looked to the empty side of the bed, and amped it up to eleven: "Where's Daddy! I want Daddy!"

I grumbled, "Owen, you know where Daddy is. He's at work." I could tell by his tightly clenched fists and the particular timbre of his whine that he wasn't letting go of this one easily.

Sure enough, he barreled on,  "Why does he have to work?  He's my favorite guy. Let's get in the car right now and go get him."

"Yes Owen," I replied, "Let's load up you and your brother,  and drive to downtown DC at seven fifteen. We can then buy a security clearance from a local vendor and sneak into his office. Maybe we can download some files or call Yemen.*"

"Great!" he yelled. Sarcasm is lost on a four year old.

Trying a different approach, I said, "We can't see Daddy until later. But we can do fun things together. Maybe go to the park? Play with play-dough?"

He crossed his hands and said, "I don't want to do that. Mommy is boring. I want Daddy."

Dagger. In my heart. His twisting technique was quite advanced for his age.

"Well, Owen, " I said, "You're just stuck with me."

Intellectually, I know that familiarity breeds contempt. Because Paul is gone for much of the day, he is special. Besides, I get it. Paul is that kind of dad.

When it's raining, Paul  takes Owen out to splash in the puddles. Every evening, Paul and Owen play catch in the backyard. In between throws, when Owen declares he needs a "little rest," my boy will sit in his father's lap, and they click together like two Legos.

Yesterday, Paul and Owen were talking about college. I heard him say, "You can go anywhere you like, as long as you work hard and try your very best."

I would have added "Except Arizona State," because I like to amuse myself.

Paul, however, wasn't about getting the self-serving laugh. He listened to his son, as he bounced ideas around, catching and releasing the words with a practiced ease.

Owen glowed.

I know that Owen loves me very much. I know he enjoys my company.

I also know that when Paul's side of the bed is empty, Owen feels a loss. A loss that I cannot fill, because I am not Daddy.

On good days, I understand that this is the way of things, and that Owen blows smoke with increasing, attention-seeking frequency.

On less secure days, I worry that my lack of essential Dudeness will cause my boys to pull away. Or, worse yet, I fear that they will prefer Paul, not because I lack the proverbial "package," but because I lack the parenting package.

Yet, even if I am boring, I still did something right. I chose their Daddy. I chose the man who allows the boys to tell their stories, as he listens, delighted and complete.

I thought this was a good fit for Shell's Pour Your Heart Out meme. Go check out other heartfelt entries.

*As far as I know, Paul has no business with Yemen. I think his most exotic business dealings are in  Ft. Worth.


MiMi said...

Beautiful post. I've been here in this exact spot so many times that I know exactly where you're coming from.
Also, "He's my favorite guy," is adorable!

Kori said...

Sigh...I am going through this very thing with my own four year old Owen, only I don't know what to do because his daddy really IS gone, not just at work. And I hate it because he wants to be his dad more than he ever wants to be with me and-well. You know.

Minivan Lover said...

I'm so curious to know what Owen said he wanted to be when he grows up or where he wants to go to college. Great post :)

clearness said...

You must live near Salsa Pie and a good friend of mine who lives in Maryland and works in D.C. Yea!

Also, when Isabella asks me why daddy works, I say so that he can take us places and buy us stuff. She's pretty pleased with that answer.

This is a really good post.

adrienzgirl said...

My boys always want their Daddy too. Not because he listens better, though he does. Not because he shows them more attention or plays better than I do, though he probably does those things too. They simply love that bonding time with him.

That said, when they want someone to really take care of them, really "need" someone. It always Mom. Sick, hurt or scared. They want me! I don't hold on to what they want Daddy for, I know there are things that are only mine too.

TerresaE said...

Beautiful post and lucky, lucky boys.

Melissa said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. Sometimes I get jealous when Randy is favored over me - but we have different qualities that Hayden likes. Randy is the fun one - I am more nurturing and structured. He needs both things. At times he prefers daddy. Other times he prefers me. In the end, I just have to accept that. And I do. At least I try to.

SamiJoe said...

Daddy's ARE special! I know how much i miss Daddy when he is at work, only right that they miss him too.
He's my 5 o'clock saviour-- but you are more than correct. I am the wise woman who chose this incredible Daddy. I think i did an excellent job too!
In the end though, we are the ones our kiddos want when they are hurt, upset or scared-- i'm ok with them wanting Daddy for all other times! LOL
Great post!

The Ninja said...

That was an amazing post. And, you are so lucky that he is THAT kind of father...I only wish my kids had THAT kind of father, instead of the kind they have.

Shell said...

I really do think that a lot has to do with how often kids get to see a parent. (plus what type of parent that person is) But, I'm always around, so my kids just take me for granted. Seeing Daddy, who works a LOT, is more special.

On the rare times that I go somewhere w/o the kids, dh has to listen to them ask for me, and that makes me feel better.

Anonymous said...

loved this! '...catching and releasing words...' great stuff! as always.

Salt said...

You're such a gorgeous writer, Nancy. If it were you at gone all day and daddy at home, he would probably be saying some of the same things about you.

They sound like they have such a lovely relationship though.

Ms. Moon said...

Yep. You did your job when you picked their daddy. And things will balance out. Beautiful piece.

shortmama said...

I play second fiddle on the weekends since its the only time my hubs is home...and I dont mind a bit

Coby said...

This was beautiful! When you married Paul, you made one of the best choices you ever could have made for your children.

I totally get this - my boys squeal, jump, and wave with delight when Hubby comes home. I would love to get a greeting like that every day! Although I get it once a week, when I come home from grocery shopping.

Buffee said...

Thanks for posting this! Normally when I read the PYHO's they're sad and depressing. But this was very sweet and uplifting! Heartfelt beyond words.

I love your writing.

erika said...

What a beautiful tribute to Paul. He sounds like an awesome Dad. You are so far from boring :)

Dina @ 4 Lettre Words said...

Love this sweet post...and I can sooo relate to that morning ritual. Kids are nothing if not consistent!

michelle said...

But you're the first person he comes to in the morning. We're always first and last. That's just the way it is.

I love this post


Anonymous said...

It's like you wrote our story. Uncanny. Well done.

An Imperfect Momma said...

Aww...great post. I know exactly what you are talking about too. I guess monkey is at that stage that Daddy is looking to be a whole lot cooler than mommy. Sigh. I miss the baby stage when it was all about me. Yea I know selfish...oh well. Hey stop on by. I got an award for ya

Aging Mommy said...

Lovely post. On vacation last week my daughter was all about Daddy. A whole week with him around and the fun parent to boot meant I took a backseat. It is also very hard for them to understand why Daddy has to go to work, I am asked why every single day now. But I still prefer this to the state we were in earlier in the year when my daughter saw so little of Daddy that their relationship really suffered and she would just ignore him or treat him horribly when around.

Beth Zimmerman said...

This is such a beautiful post! And what a blessing that his daddy will be home at the end of the day! Too many little guys don't have that! :)

Beth Zimmerman said...

This is such a beautiful post! And what a blessing that his daddy will be home at the end of the day! Too many little guys don't have that! :)

LB said...

There really is something special about the bond kids have with their fathers. My kids are lucky, too, to have such an awesome dad.

Don't worry; when it all comes down Mom is the person to whom they will flock. It's the natural order of things. Boys just LOVE their moms.

Organic Motherhood with Cool Whip said...

I remember the first time Nino showed a preference for someone besides me. My cousin Janice was staying with us and he said, "I want to go live with Janice. She's fun and she never puts me in time-out." It totally felt like daggers in the heart.

But at the same time, I realized that it was easy for him to want to "live with Janice." Because, like a grandparent of sorts, she is there for the fun stuff and doesn't have to do the hard labor of parenitng during the meltdowns and bedtimes and toothbrushing, etc.

You are a great mom, Nancy. Your kids adore you. And yes, you did pick them an awesome Dad too. Give yourself a big pat on the back because you are doing a great job.

StarTraci said...

My husband works nights four times a week and some nights my son will wail for my husband. "I don't want you, Mommy. I want Daddy." Just kills me. So I understand. He loves you. You know it. But I know that it is hard to feel it when you hear that.