It’s Saturday morning and I am trying to let my spouse sleep in for once. She has been a perennial poor sleeper since our daughter entered our lives- waking to any small noise and having somewhat fitful rest even with our daughter mostly sleeping through the night. I jump up before my spouse can rouse from her now deep, early morning sleep and skitter to my daughter’s room when she calls out for us on the monitor. “Mummy’s here honey.” Of course she asks- or more demands- for Mama, as she nearly always does, but I lure her into my arms with promises of making pancakes. This gets her attention- PANCAKES? – hell yeah Mummy! We are a house of stereotypical, natural foodie parents and sweets are not something we indulge her in that often, especially not for the introductory meal of the day. Who cares if it comes from a tree? Maple syrup tastes GOOD (have you looked at the grams of sugar? think more than Coca-Cola).
We lumber into our small, galley kitchen and grab some metal, mixing bowls from the cabinets along with the pouch of pancake mix. I set the bowl on a long, wooden bench we have in our kitchen so that it’s at my daughter’s height and she can help with the dumping of ingredients and stirring. She’s giddy with excitement at our forthcoming meal- both because of the actual food it will produce and because she gets to help make it. She’s practicing perfecting her jump to show her enthusiasm and is ridiculously adorable with her long, straight bed head hair falling in her face as she hollers, “JUMP!” and springs up and down in front of the mixing bowl and bench, her toddler body and chunky feet landing with a heavy thud. I go and shut the door to our bedroom; better not wake the Mama.
We’re having a gay ‘ole time and it’s not even 8 am. I’ve just brought out the measuring cups and I let my daughter dip them into the pancake mix bag and pull them out, overflowing with powder. She dumps it into the bowl, somewhere in the vicinity of the right amount we need to make our cakes. She goes for a second dip and I say, “oh what the hell” to myself about doubling the recipe, because it’s making her so happy just to be able to help with the cooking process. As she’s bringing out the measuring cup, she gets a mischievous look on her face and in that instance I panic and know what she’s about to do before I can stop her. DUMP. The powder is all over the floor, on my feet, on her feet, and making fluffy lines of white in the cracks in the hardwood floor. She laughs and then does another impulsive move and scoops her chubby hands into the hill of powder on the floor and is now dancing in the stuff. Suddenly, it feels like one cup has quadrupled into four somehow and the small area is covered. Then my spouse walks in.
Welcome to my life as a parent. I have often wondered if Het Dads feel this way- not the supreme nurturer in their child’s life, but the entertainer. The Court Jester if you will. Mr. Mom, or in my case, Mrs. Dad as it were. My spouse looks at me with tired annoyance. No babies lost, right? We were having fun. Oh, right, but that’s what we do, we have fun.
My spouse doesn’t end up getting upset; she rolls with it, maybe because she’s too tired to deal with my shenanigans or maybe because she also sees that it’s no biggie. But it leaves me feeling like a bit of a mess of a parent (more figuratively than literally). But then maybe parenting is messy for every parent, regardless of your position or relation to your child, and I’m just more upfront and self-deprecating than some. I wear it on my sleeve, whereas others act as if they have it all under control (haha). Yep, I’m the funny guy in the house. And my kid likes it about me. Hell, it could be worse.
We sweep up the pancake mix with my daughter’s miniature broom and dust pan- ok, I’m lying a bit- she holds it for a moment, whacks some powder up into the air, spreading it even further, and then I sweep up the mess with the big broom. Le sigh.* But we have a tasty, if not snobbishly healthy, meal to start another random weekend in the blips of our life as a family. My daughter is laughing and saying, “MMMMMMMMMM!!!!” as she saturates her square of carbs in the syrup until it’s the color of molasses and my spouse can’t help but crack a grin with her raw enthusiasm for life.
* I cannot take credit for this brilliant phrase that sums up so many situations in my life as a parent- my friend Sarah Reid is the word-smithing genius behind it!