From dad to mom, with love
By Joseph Lovaglio
I have gracefully accepted the challenge of playing the “mommy” role.
I have been a father now for four years, and I’ve switched places with my wife who is now our main source of income.
I remember wearing a Ted Baker Suite, a Hugo Boss shirt snug against my body and Prada loafers on my feet. It’s been a year since I have been employed and now it’s just a T-shirt, a pair of jeans and an apron; I am cooking, cleaning and being a maid for my four-year-old son.
His trails are obvious. It’s either cereal or milk splattered in random areas on my white tile floor. His Lego pieces hide in the carpet; some are still imprinted on the bottom of my foot and they have since become permanent.
We take the bus together every morning on my way to school. His feet hang over the bus seat; he carelessly kicks them forwards and back while his hands rest by his side. He bears the hour-and-a-half-long ride to and from school with me.
He never fails to ask me if we are there yet. When we approach the Lehman Causeway, he enjoys looking at the water through the bus window. As he waits for the mega cruise ships to pass, he smiles; his face glows, radiating this force of joy, that makes others smile too when they see it.
It’s interesting how people react to some of my son’s questions on the bus. “Excuse me, why are your front teeth missing?” He tilts his head to the left, raises his eyebrow and patiently waits for an answer; but before an answer is spoken he will smile, interrupt and say “I know why, because you don’t brush your teeth.” It is moments like these that make me proud.
It was difficult for my son to adjust to the bus ride in the beginning; he had some trouble keeping his milk down in the morning, so each day when he would have his accident, we would have to stop the bus and everybody would have to get off and wait for another bus. I learned after the second time to bring a plastic bag.
I’d heard people gagging behind me like I caused a vile epidemic, but I still carry a bag, just in case.
When we arrive at home, his routine is simple; he kicks off his shoes, he sits down to loosen both socks so that they rest on the tips of his toes and then he stands back up and kicks them carelessly into the air. He takes his pants off and runs to the bathroom.
I saw what my son does in the bathroom for the first time the other day. I was surprised at what I discovered: he was naked on the toilet, playing his Nintendo DS with the red heat lamp on. He yelled “Get out, don’t look at me!” He is four years old. I have caught him many times and I always laugh out loud.
There are instances in which I don’t feel like the #1 dad that the T-shirt I wear so proudly on my chest proclaims. My son says to me “Daddy, can you play with me?” and I have to say no, I can’t, I have to study.
I found myself saying “no” more to him because of school. It’s hard to say no, I want to go and play just as badly as he does, but being a parent is about setting examples. Being a parent is also asking the tough questions; “am I doing the right thing?”
We learned to adapt to our new life quickly, and maybe that’s from the constant moving we have done in the past. Our life has not been an easy one, but we manage and try to make it work. I’m fortunate to have a tolerant wife and son who push me to be a better man every day.
I understood what love really was when Michael was born. I felt the burning desire of responsibility for another human life and for family. I know he loves me, because at random times he will say “Daddy, I love you.” Those words always remind me that I’m doing a good job.