My view of a father figure is unfortunately slightly idealistic and also slightly unrealistic. I don’t really blame it entirely on myself but on the fact that my father wasn’t around long enough to see me through the toughest times. And my stepfather had enough of his own demons to contend with to really be a good father figure. My mother however worked hard to be an all-around parent figure who not only provided and gave, but was also there for us, always, probably giving up a lot of her own wants and needs at the same time. So, over the years, I promised myself that I would only ever have children with a person with whom I would spend the rest of my life. Because my children should never have to miss their father, ever. He would always be there, swooping in, throwing them in the air, playing with them, dressing them like little punk rockers and taking them for ice cream for breakfast. He would watch them leave on their first date, staring Robert de Niro style at the person they were leaving with, scrutinizing them and telling them he would kill them if they hurt his child. He would basically be everything I always wanted in a father but didn’t have.
Guess what? I DID meet someone like that. I always thought love was meant to be full of pain, and unsaids, where no one was really honest about their feelings. I never really imagined myself in a real partnership with someone, where everything feels natural all of the time, where you can say “I love you” and really mean it 100 times a day. I thought that was just for others. But no, I got lucky too, and one day during late summer a few years ago my new boss at the time introduced me to my coworkers in the tiny but insanely busy restaurant on the Lower East Side of NYC, I just saw him and knew. Something happened at that moment, maybe it was his smile, his arms, his eyes, I don’t know, but it did take us quite a few months to figure ourselves and our relationship out. But we did and Cesar was always going to be the one person I want to spend the rest of my life with. Through everything together, difficult times and easy times, thick and thin. To eternity, that’s us. Nothing is going to change that, I will go wherever he will go and vice versa. Cesar really is my favorite person on earth. And so we had one, then two and now three (any day) children together, and every day I know that I made the perfect choice for us.
Parenting isn’t easy, and there are times when I want to just switch off for 20 minutes and just listen to the sound of silence, or birds singing or whatever, and not have to hear the constant “mama get me this” or “mama MORE”. Cesar works two jobs for us, often leaving the house well before 7am and coming home after 11pm, riding his bike and waiting for the train, rain or 110 degrees Fahrenheit, while we are comfortably at home. Sometimes I get frustrated because on days when he only works one job or finishes early I want him to come in and just take over, entertain the kids while I make dinner or finish an assignment, but then I have to take a breath and remember that he just got home. The first things I ever wanted to do after a long shift at work were change, sit down, drink a cup of something and cuddle my cat. Why wouldn’t I let my partner do the same? I do get a lot of “down time” during the day, most of which I use to work on writing assignments and deadlines and answering emails, but I also get to relax when the kids are napping, and listen to music, watch TV, or walk around the park. I love being able to stay at home and work with the kids. I love knowing that their every need is met all the time because I am there. And I love to be able to work with a flexible schedule. And all of this is thanks to Cesar who works like a maniac so we can actually afford to live in a cool area near parks and shops, where we don’t need a car, and where we can live comfortably.
And when he IS home the kids turn into Daddy’s girls… They wrestle and scream and jump and dance, cuddle on the bed and eat chips and watch cartoons and rock videos, run around the park like maniacs and do all the crazy things that I am too scared to do with them. He goes to the thrift store and comes back with the prettiest skirts and dresses, barely worn kid Converse for $3 and other deals that I never seem to find. He whips up amazing meals that are always perfectly cooked and so much better than I could ever make, and loves to hide away with his music to draw and create, making something new out of something old and battered.
Sometimes when I go out by myself for a few hours I get so excited to come home just to see the girls’ faces light up when they see me again. The “mama I love you so so so muches” melt my heart every single time. I will never tire of the kisses and cuddles that happen randomly throughout the day and night, and I can’t imagine not being a mother to these little munchkins… There are moments when I lose my patience spectacularly, when I burst into tears or yell or just hide in the bathroom after putting a Disney movie on the TV. But I always know that I’m not alone doing this, that I have an equal partner who loves me and our kids more than anything in the world, and would do anything for us. When he walks through the door, or wakes up in the morning, they swarm him for cuddles and kisses, and I feel like I am the luckiest woman on earth. Just because I am.
So maybe my vision of fatherhood WAS idealistic, possibly even slightly unrealistic, but at the same time it did become real. I can’t wait to see how we evolve over the years together, other moves across the country or across countries, growing children, one day even a marriage (and if you know me this was something that I never considered with anyone before, but for some reason, it feels perfectly right now). I always think of my father on Father’s Day and miss him terribly, sad that he missed everything, I think of my Grandad who was there, solid like a rock, until he died suddenly when I was 13, and now I always smile because we have someone that we can celebrate together: my other half and the kids’ father.
Happy Father’s Day!!