My husband, Nick, has always been the responsible, grown-up-beyond-his-years type. When I brought him home to meet my parents for the first time, his demeanor of quiet confidence made them assume he was much older than me. We were both 23.
And while I was attracted to that maturity (my previous boyfriends had been a bit, ahem, lacking in that department), I was also privy to a fun-loving, silly side of Nick. Others didn't always see this. In fact, when we went out to do karaoke with Nick's coworkers, their jaws hit the floor when Nick joined me on stage for a J. Lo/Ja Rule duet, complete with gangsta rap stylings.
Fast forward eight years, and Nick and I welcomed our first daughter into the world. When Nick held S for the first time in the hospital, he was barefoot and wearing a white undershirt and swim trunks. (I had been laboring in the shower, and Nick was my hands-on birth coach.) Shoes or no shoes, my sometimes buttoned-up husband was ready to embrace his new buttoned-down role as a father.
Since that day, I've watched as Nick has shared the best of himself not just with me, but with the other (little) lady in his life. Nick read his newborn daughter books when she could still barely even see, he diligently worked on her tummy time, and he sang the ABCs to her during diaper changes. So many, many diaper changes.
|Baby's first story time|
Today, Nick and S (now 2-and-a-half) are becoming fast friends. They chase each other around the kitchen playing their own version of flashlight tag, he puts her stuffed animals on his head and pretends he can't find them (much to her delight), and he does a dead-on impression of Snuffleupagus that cracks us all up. He also smothers her with kisses at bedtime (so much that she once kindly suggested "too much, Dada") and hustles to her bedroom at 3 a.m. when she has a bad dream.
But she isn't always kind to her doting Dada. S has always been attached to Mama, and I know that her rejections of Nick have sometimes stung him. (You try opening the back door of the car to help your daughter out of her carseat, only to hear screams of "Nooo! Nooo! Mama buckle!", and see how hard it is to keep your chin up.) But while another new dad might have taken the hint and retreated into the background, Nick has stayed the course, making sure that S knows that he, too, is present in her life.
And it's paid off. S now greets Nick with a big smile--and sometimes even a kiss!--when he gets home from work. And just this past weekend, as we parked in front of our house, we heard S call out "Dada buckle!" for the first time ever. Nick smiled, and we exchanged a high-five before he opened the door to proudly retrieve his little girl.
Happy Father's Day, Dada.