From Chicken Soup for the Mother of Preschooler's Soul

On Parade

Her children rise up and bless her.

Proverbs 31:28

“Daddy’s home!”

Tiny figures stampede past, each clamoring to get the first hug, the first kiss, all squawking at once.

“I want a piggyback ride!”

“Look what I made for you!”

“Did you bring us anything?”

Daddy throws his arms wide and draws three squirming bodies off the floor. Squeals and giggles abound as he spins them around, returns them to the floor and starts chasing them in every direction.

No more quiet house. No more bathtime. No more Mama. It’s as if I’ve disappeared into the woodwork I’ve been trying to find time to clean.

He deserves this, I tell myself. He works extra hard so I can stay home with the kids. This is his reward after a long day at the office.

Who am I kidding? It hurts to see them shower affection on David, after I’ve been here, all day long, changing diapers, wiping noses and mopping spills. I’m the one who’s not allowed to have a complete thought, stay seated through a meal or enjoy an uninterrupted phone conversation.

I’m in charge of work, worry and discipline; he’s in charge of fun, frolic and fantasy. I’m the maid, the cook, the school marm—and the policeman; he’s the grand marshal of the nightly daddy parade.

Where’s my parade?

Of course, we made this decision together, putting my career on hold to be here for the kids. I never doubted it was the right choice for us, and I still don’t. At times, however, it’s hard to watch David shower, dress and disappear while I stay home, as steady and loyal as a lap dog.

Just once, I’d like to walk in the door to shouts of “Mommy’s home!”

I know I’m being silly. Think of the things he misses out on, things I wouldn’t trade for the most glamorous job on the planet. He wasn’t here for Molly’s first joke, when at a year old she reached into a basket of toys, pulled out a dumbbell-shaped rattle and held it across the bridge of her nose like Mommy’s glasses. He didn’t hear her belly laugh then or mine when Hewson at two strode through the back door naked except for a pair of muddy rubber boots— smiling ear-to-ear—to hand me a bouquet of ragweed.

He’s not here when Molly hurts herself, and before I can reach her, Haley has rushed over to console her. Or when I offer Hewson a cookie, and he won’t accept it unless I give him one for each of his “sissies” as well.

I can hear the Daddy Fan Club in the bedroom, fighting over who gets to put his shoes in the closet and who may toss his shirt in the hamper. I don’t see anyone wrestling me for my dishrag. But as I clear the table for dinner, I catch glimpses of our day together—masks we constructed from paper plates, flowers plucked on our morning walk, a mountain of library books because we had to have just one more.

Would I trade all of that for a paycheck and a little office camaraderie?

As the daddy procession heads back my way, I have to admit the trade-offs are worth it. He may have lunch out with coworkers, but I get peanut-butter-and-jelly kisses. He might exchange clever repartee with clients, but I get to snuggle up and read Good Night, Moon “just one more time.”

Let him have his parade. I’ll celebrate each day’s small joys.

After all, those are perks no benefits package can offer.

Mimi Greenwood Knight

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