There’s nothing quite like taking care of my daughter to blast away selfishness, bitch-slap my inner child, napalm my therapist, etc. And I’m doing just great. Right about the time I’m congratulating myself on how far I’ve come is great timing for another reminder, though.
Just the other day, we had a blow out. I had fed her (well, she’s pretty good at feeding herself, I was just there to make sure she didn’t decide to throw the bowl) and I was eating my own food, which she wanted some of. I refused to give her any, and she put her head right down on the cold floor and wailed and cried. She kept it up, no matter how I try to distract her, and trying to hold her just made it worse. Even after a half-hour of this I couldn’t comfort her, and only my wife was able to hold her and calm her down. Over my wife’s shoulder she looked at me with the burning eyes of someone safe from the enemy.
We make up of course, she’s fine (she’s always great). But damn it all if I wasn’t left with hurt feelings. In some ridiculous way I want taking care of her to be personally fulfilling. What a crock of shit! It’s one of those times when I have to look at my psyche and just shake my head, sadly. (I’m not alone though. Every month we get Parents magazine for some reason — we didn’t order it and never renew it — and in every issue there is an article about how to get the most fulfillment out of raising a child.) The latest version of my personal mantra is to take care of her:
1. …without being a rigid asshole
2. …while staying open and intimate with her
3. …without being wishy-washy, negotiating with her, or becoming pedantic
4. …while staying in sync with my wife’s style and expectations of her

and above all:
5. …with the ability to let go of any desires for personal gratification I might want for what I do for her.
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