Hi, my name is Ryan, and I'm "Not Mommy".
Like most fathers, when I imagined having kids, I saw myself playing catch in the yard, attending recitals, and marveling at crayon scribbles. I'd be the man that's an example to his children, showing them love, compassion, and understanding. Teaching them when to fight and when to step away. I dreamt of being someone that could answer their questions, teach them how to learn, and help them discover the world.
I'm up when they're up, helping with breakfast and getting them ready for school. I'm out on the field helping the coach. I'm at taekwondo and gymnastics, watching and proud. I walk them to school every morning. I'm there nearly as much as The Mommy.
Conversations with the kids are one-sided, or I'm put in my place:
I don't need YOU! I want Mommy! *Silence*
Usually, the only way I can get my kids' attention is to speak at a volume most would classify as “barking” (I tend to project from my diaphragm). But I can't stand being the bad guy, the punisher. I've scared strangers into submission by belting out admonishments not to cross the street just in time to miss a passing car. Other times, bribes of candy and cookies win me favor. Or the cat, more cuddly than me, is laying next to me, and I get a small dose of drive-by affection.
And then it happens. They look me straight in the eye. Me. They're looking at me and it's more than a passing glance. I have their attention. They want to play LEGOs with me.
Daddy knows the answer. Daddy can fix this!
Sometimes they get scared and they want ME to hold them (I have a good track record against bogeymen).
And it floors me. Every time. I'm not Mommy, I'm their Daddy.