We were headed off to the Dinosaur exhibit at the zoo last night, meeting a coworker and his wife and son. I received a text from him saying they were running about half hour late, so we stopped at a BBQ restaurant not far from the zoo. After a failed dinner – my kids ONLY eat hamburgers and french fries and tender shredded meat covered in tangy sweet BBQ sauce is abhorrent to them – we hopped back in the car to head to the zoo.
As we were pulling out, my daughter noticed an older man, dressed head to toe in camouflage, surrounded by backpacks, with a long, gray beard and wraparound sunglasses.
My daughter says from the backseat, “Momma, can he be our dad?”
“Who? That man with the long beard?”
“Yes. He looks nice.”
My heart broke in two right then. Like it always does when I’m overwhelmed by the crushing “you are less than because you are a single mom and your kids will wind up wounded” feeling.
“Honey, I think he’s homeless.”
“Well, then we can bring him home. He can live with us. He can be our dad.”
That put the cherry on top of my already feeling insecure parenting sundae. At the zoo, she reveled in the attention of my male coworker, begging us to each hold each of her hands and “jump” her.
We have a good life. Sometimes things can eat at you though. I’m still working on my heart of steel.