It’s funny how sometimes no matter what you plan, or how much you prepare, somethings are just out of your control.  During our pregnancy I had so much time to fantasize about my new life with our baby.  I had almost a year to build up this image of how I saw myself as a parent and what my relationship with our kid will be like.  Since I had no experience with newborns or any babies at all, all of my visions were of Ellie as a toddler or older.  I envisioned us sitting on the couch listening to Led Zeppelin or the Beatles together.  Me telling her stories about why I liked those songs or what made them so great, and her just looking at me quietly.  I pictured the typical Kodak moment of playing in the leaves during the fall, or her holding my hand while I wandered the aisles of Home Depot.  I also pictured the stereotypical scene of coming home from work.  In my mind I’d bust through the door with a big smile on my face and my arms wide open, and Ellie would squeal in excitement, “Dad’s home!” and then she’d run and give me a big hug.  But newborn babies don’t do much except lay there, cry, and poop.  And as you are adjusting to that and realigning the images in your head, life throws you a curve ball.

When I got laid off I was not devastated.  In a way I was relieved, and also very excited.  Getting laid off made it easy for us to make a lot of the decisions we were still pondering about.  It helped us come to terms with what we both had to do, and we didn’t have all these “what ifs” hanging over our heads.  “What if” happened, and we were making the most of it.  Aya enjoyed her job and liked going to work, and I was making the most of being at home while I found my way through taking care of a newborn.

It was spring and summer when I started out my “stay at home dad” gig, so we were outdoors a lot.  We went on a million walks, hung out down by the river, did porch sitting, and watered the flowers in the garden.  I’d put her in the baby carrier while I cooked too.  Most often this was the only way I could get her to take a nap.  It was frustrating at times, but I also loved it.  None of this was really in my “pre-baby planned mental vision”, but I was really enjoying them.  So many people told me that I was developing such a special bond with her.  That she’d always have a special place for dad.  But now that she is entering toddlerdom where she is walking and being interactive, I can’t help but realize that many of my mental images are changing or down right disappearing.

That “coming home from work” scene?  Instead of Ellie squealing in excitement when I come home, she squeals in excitement when Aya comes home.  When Aya opens the back door, Ellie will squeal, clap her hands and say, “DaDa!  DaDa!” and run over to her.  What did you call her!?  Not only does Aya get the love and affection I envisioned receiving, but she also gets my title!?  I’m very happy to see Ellie so excited for her mom, I truly am, but I am also extremely jealous.  Jealous is an understatement.  It’s like she kicks me in the gut.  I don’t receive the warmest welcome when I return from a long absence.  She might look up at me like, “Oh, you again.” and go back to being more interested in the coaster she was playing with.  I know it’s irrational, I know it’s normal, I know it’s not me, I know it’s because I’m always with her and she’s used to seeing me.  But I still can’t help but think; Who cleaned up your mountain of poop?  Who made you eggs for breakfast?  Who played peek-a-boo with you?  Who read you that book about the bears for the millionth time?  Who brushes your teeth?  Who feeds you?  Who helps you get down for a nap everyday?  And this is the thanks I get!?

While Aya and I were wondering where Ellie got the “DaDa” from and why she’s directing that to Aya, we realized that when Aya comes home, she always says “tadaima!” Which basically means “I’m home!” in Japanese.  Oooooh… mom home = “ta-da-i-ma” = “DaDa”.  Not quite, but I could see the mix up.  Aya does only say it when she comes home.  So maybe I got lost in translation with a mixed kid, but still.  What do I got to do to retrain the kid?

I can come to terms with the fact that life doesn’t always go as you planned or prepared.  I can accept that I am Ellie’s constant, and Aya is her rockstar.  I know Ellie is just starting to learn words.  I know it’s just a title.  But I can’t help but feel hurt.  “DaDa” is my title and I earn it everyday!  I know I won’t be getting any raises from my ‘boss’ anymore, but I think I at least deserve recognition, don’t you think?

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