When I think of all the mistakes I’ve made “on the job” it’s mind-boggling. I’ve put diapers on backwards (on Will, not on myself), put his shoes on the wrong feet and one time almost drove off with him on the roof of the car in his infant carrier. And some days you make so many mistakes all in a row it feels like you’re never going to do anything right ever again.
So when you get into the zone and everything goes right, you need to relish it.
Last night I was officially in “The Daddy Groove.” I worked from home but Will and MJ were out for most of the day. When work ended at 5 p.m. MJ went into the kitchen to start dinner. But sparked by a productive workday, I jumped up and interceded, saying “Don’t worry babe, I got this.”
Truth is I’m a horrible cook. I can do pasta, burgers, hotdogs and steak. But that’s about it. We had thawed some chicken so that’s all I had to work with. Luckily someone at work earlier this week was talking about a dijon chicken recipe, so I sprung into action. I looked up the recipe online (thank you Betty Crocker) and started gathering my ingredients. I sliced the chicken breasts in half, melted some butter, mixed in some honey dijon mustard, dipped the chicken in the butter/dijon and then dropped it into a bag full of breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.
In between preparing my culinary masterpiece, I was getting peppered with questions from Will.
“Dada, can I have a bear?”
“Dada, are Superman and Batman friends?”
“Dada, why don’t sharks drown?”
But in between making the rice and cooking my chicken, I answered every question in rapid-fire succession.
Then I noticed MJ get up and head to the kitchen. I asked her what she was doing and she said since I was cooking she’d clean. I shook my head and told her to get her ass back to the couch. I’ve got this. And with that it was off to the pantry where I put the dog food in the big tupperware container, cleaned out the kitty litter and took the trash down to the dumpster. When I got back it was just in time to take the chicken out of the oven.
But first the table had to be set. As I was taking the chicken out of the oven and preparing to grab the placemats, napkins and utensils, MJ nudged me and nodded towards the kitchen table. What I saw warmed my heart. Will had grabbed everything and lugged it over to the table on his own. He was taking great pains to line up all three placemats ever so perfectly, followed by the napkins. Then, very deliberately, he placed forks on each napkin. I know it sounds simple, but it was really very sweet.
We’re not perfect parents, but we stress manners. And it’s paying off.
When it was time to eat I was worried about how it would taste, because I’ve never made anything like that before. But it turns out I was fretting about nothing because it tasted AWESOME! MJ liked it and even Will at some, which is rare because his palate begins and ends with mac & cheese.
After dinner I read Will a story, sang to him and put him to bed. When I left the room he shouted “DADA!” and I turned around because I thought something was wrong. Turns out he just wanted to tell me he loved me and give me another kiss. A dad’s dream for sure. As I sat down on the couch next to my wife, I smiled the tired but satisfied smile of a husband and father who had one of those great days. A day where everything went right for a change and I was able to hit multiple pitches straight out of the park.
Then I heard my wife say, “You are so awesome and so damn cute. I love you and I’m so lucky to have you around.”
Wow. It was the perfect end to a perfect day. I was touched to the point of happy tears so I got up, walked over to the side of the recliner and gave her a big, huge hug and said “Thank you baby. That was awesome.”
She shot me a confused look which immediately changed to red-faced and sheepish.
“Oh. Yeah. I was uhhhh…I was actually talking to the cat.”
Oh well. The Daddy Groove was nice while it lasted.