Brett Buckner: The unexpected, unmatched joy of fatherhood
Feb 09, 2014 | 2777 views |  0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I’m watching Taylor Swift videos and singing along. Dressing dolls and playing principal/lunch dude to a class of stuffed animals.

It’s not what I thought being a father would be like … but I kinda hoped.

I find rocks in every pocket thanks to my amateur geologist and all my change mysteriously disappears from my car. And while I’m not yet good enough to do ponytails, I am trusted to paint fingernails and toenails.

I go to Disney movies and get in trouble for falling asleep — and hogging the popcorn. I’ve read the entire catalogue of Junie B. Jones books and laughed out loud. I’ve been asked for my opinion on wearing sparkly pink boots with a zebra-striped skirt and purple shirt and was summarily overruled.

It’s not what I thought being a father would be like … but I kinda hoped.

We listen to Drivin’ ‘n’ Cryin songs and deconstruct the lyrics. We eat oatmeal raisin cookies from the Cookie Shop, and pancakes from IHOP. We spend hours “just looking” around the bookstore and argue over who gets to use the new Swiffer Sweeper I got for Christmas. We watch “Glee” (seriously — freakin’ “Glee”?), and argue over who’s the most annoying character on “Jessie.” We eat Pop-Tarts in bed on Saturday mornings.

We were literally the only people on earth who enjoyed “Smurfs 2.”

Jellybean just turned 6 and at the risk of sounding cliché, I don’t know where the time has gone. It seems like only yesterday I was shoved out into the hospital waiting room with this tiny pink thing wrapped in a hospital blanket while friends and family jockeyed around me to get a good look at the little girl My Lovely Wife and I brought into the world. Granted, my role was pretty easy (especially considering that while I was getting pats on the back, My Lovely Wife was getting sewn up).

I’ve never been so proud or terrified, but somehow I knew everything was gonna be just fine. I’d come a long way from the guy who used to openly rail against the illusion of marriage (in my “St. Elmo’s Fire” Andrew McCarthy phase) and I certainly never wanted to have kids.

Time makes fools, and liars, of us all.

Looking back, I had no clue just how clueless I was. It hasn’t always been easy or even fun. There’s been a lot a worry, stress, frustration, tears, raised voices and more than a few minutes in Time Out. OCD medication and those after-bedtime beers helped My Lovely Wife and I sort it all out.

We worked as a team, raising both a baby and a teenager the best we could. I wasn’t always the greatest husband and it took me a while to warm up to the responsibility of being a father, but today Jellybean is a happy child and The Diva is an amazing, headstrong young woman. I have regrets but few things that I would actually change.

The best times are getting to watch those tiny stolen moments when Jellybean forgets I’m there, in her own little world fixing her hair in the mirror, standing on her tip-toes to reach the mouthwash on the bathroom counter, pretending to be dance instructor to a couch full of stuffed animals learning the choreography of “Cool Rider” from “Grease 2,” picking out her own clothes — mismatched as they may be — or snoring softly with her head in the crook of my elbow.

It’s not what I thought being a father would be like … but I kinda hoped.

Contact Brett Buckner at brettbuckner@ymail.com.
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