I've been blessed in this life with two beautiful daughters. They're specimens of physical perfection with hearts of gold to match. When the Supreme Deity crafted this unique batch of femininity, the angels assigned to assist were clearly instructed to use only the finest ingredients. Their sparkling blue eyes and charming little personalities light up the days of everyone they meet and I consider myself the luckiest bastard in the world to be their dad.
I swear on my Granny's grave that there's no doubt the good Lord gave me daughters as payback for my forty-year reign as CEO of Troublemakers, Inc. Blessing a reformed bad boy like me with two beautiful daughters is proof positive that Queen Karma not only exists, but that she loves retribution. No doubt at this very moment, God and the Queen are throwing back tequila shots in the clouds and laughing it up at my recent plight...
The plight of a newly single father.
When I was married, I thrived in the role of fatherhood... but with a catch. Everything was on my terms. When it came to bedtime stories, the occasional bubble bath or championship pillow fights, I was Father of the Year. Ice cream before dinner? No problem! South Park for my 3-year-old? Why not? It's a cartoon, isn't it? As a married man, fatherhood seemed to be a breeze. Of course in retrospect, the only breeze around my house was me breezing out the door when the going got tough.
So much for Father of the Year.
I remember coming home after a long day of work to the same old scene time and time again -- the interior of my beautiful home laid-to-waste courtesy of my genetic replicas. Despite having just arrived home themselves, my girls could create scenes of devastation in sixty seconds flat. Walking through the front door, my tired eyes witnessed a swath of destruction that surely must have contained every toy, book and crayon color known to man. And as if that weren't enough, I could always count on my delicate eardrums being mercilessly assaulted with the combined cacophony of pots and pans set to a backdrop of The Wiggles theme song. Yet somehow, the amazing female brave enough to take my last name took it all in stride while her husband damn near had a meltdown of nuclear proportions.
Because of scenes like this, my desire for escape at the end of the day was stronger than that of a death-row inmate incarcerated on Alcatraz. Like a lot of guys, I could often be found locked behind the doors of my home office, praying to The Fates that my family would leave me alone. But this escape would inevitably saddle my long-suffering wife with a disproportionate share of the childcare responsibilities. Particularly, the less-than-glamorous bits. Not cool. For me, if the task in question involved baby backwash, juvenile fecal matter, whining, complaining or any number of other unpleasantries, I did my best to disappear faster than virginity on prom night. Because I worked a corporate job all day, I justified my vanishing act by rationalizing that a mother's job description couldn't possibly be as draining or taxing as mine.
I have never been more wrong.
Now that I'm a single dad and my ex-wife isn't around all the time like she was during the blissful days of yore, I have a whole new level of respect and admiration for mothers and caretakers of every sort. I am now wholeheartedly convinced there is no more noble or selfless job in the entire world than that of a responsible, attentive and loving mother. Men like to joke about women being the weaker sex, but the joke's on us, fellas -- there aren't many men alive who can manage a household, earn an income and juggle family responsibilities with a fraction of the combined competence a woman can.
As proof of my point, yesterday it took me over an hour to make two grilled cheese sandwiches and a bowl of tomato soup for my girls. I somehow managed to turn what should have been a simple lunchtime ritual into an Act of God. Between boil overs, plumes of black smoke and a litany of four-letter obscenities, I proceeded to annihilate every piece of cookware within a ten-foot radius. When I was done, my kitchen looked like the cross between a double homicide and the aftermath of an F5 tornado. Emeril Lagasse would no doubt have fired me on the spot. BAM! Unlike me, my ex could cook a gourmet meal with a baby on her hip while talking on her phone and simultaneously helping my oldest daughter with her homework. Hell, I'm lucky if I can sh*t and fart at the same time!
I have to admit, prior to being a single dad, I never gave women the credit they deserved for their contributions in the role of motherhood. For me, I took my ex-wife's abilities for granted because I had NO idea it was this much work. Now that I'm on the hook for cleaning up after, negotiating with, and chauffeuring around two blonde chicks with as much of an attitude problem as their old man, I tip my hat to women all across the world. For a guy like me, it took being on my own to realize what an amazing set of abilities many mothers intuitively and naturally possess.
Compassion, attentiveness and patience are merely the start. Take it from a guy who recently learned the hard way; being a good caretaker or mother is easily one of the most underrated yet most important jobs in the world. For this reason, the nurturing instinct with which many women are blessed deserves to be cherished and validated at every opportunity. Because fifty years from now, it won't matter what kind of car we drove or what the balance in our bank account was, but there's a high probability the world will be a better place because a woman was important in the life of a child.
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