A young couple sits in a trendy Manhattan eatery. Armani-clad waiters buzz about, working hard to look nonchalant.
Huddled over their small table, the couple focuses only on one another. That’s what they do. It is early yet.
She is driven – proud of her recent promotion to senior vice president just shy of thirty. A hard-won victory.
She speaks with conviction. She feels sure that she is conquering her world. She talks of desk politics, power and money.
He speaks in the language of philosophy. He weaves a tapestry of hopes and dreams and ideals.
They know they will have children, but the idea lives in the vapor of the future.
She watches his eyes dance.
“I’ve figured it out,” he says, nearly breathless.
His entire body is alight with possibility. Close to ten years later, she’ll remember this energy. She’ll remember how he was nearly vibrating in his seat.
“I really think I’ve got it,” he continues. He looks as though he might get up and sprint away from the table.
She listens intently.
“OK, you know how you say that you would never want to give up your career?”
She hasn’t yet learned the dangers of words like ‘never’.
“But that you’d never want anyone else raising your kids?”
She sips her wine. Nods again.
“Well, love, you’re an incredibly bright woman; you know that. But I’m not sure you’ve really thought this through, babe.”
She doesn’t like being forced to acknowledge her own folly. She scrunches her nose in response.
She has no idea that her first daughter will inherit this habit – that it will become more hers than her mother’s.
“I never wanted to point out the contradiction because I didn’t have a solution. But I think I do now.”
She drops the fork that she has been using to idly push the food around her plate. She waits.
He looks at her for a long moment. A look she will never forget.
“I know what I want to be when I grow up,” he says, only half in jest.
She will realize later that she has been holding her breath.
“I want to be a Dad.”
The waiter passes by. He apparently thinks the better of interrupting them.
She doesn’t respond. She’s not entirely sure what he means.
“I was meant to be a Dad. It just makes sense.”
He goes on to explain his plan.
He will be a stay-at-home dad while she continues her climb up the corporate ladder. Her mutually exclusive plans are miraculously no longer so.
They don’t know that theirs will be a different kind of parenting than any they could have imagined. They have no idea that they will skip the prerequisites and jump straight into the Advanced Placement Class.
The waiter clears their plates and leaves dessert menus. They don’t open them. Instead, they order two more glasses of wine. They sit for a while. They are in no hurry. There’s no place they have to be.
She watches him.
He doesn’t know that he will be the best father that any child could ever hope to have.
She knows it down to her very soul.
She will be wrong about many, many things – more than she could ever count. But not this.
She will be proven perfectly, completely, deliciously right.
[Twelve] years and two incredible little girls later, she is more right than ever.
Daddy and his girls – Kennebunkport, 2009
With love and gratitude to the only man on earth who could give my own dad a run for his money.
Happy Father’s Day, My Love