My husband did not want to be a father.
I thought about this a few nights ago as I did the dishes. Beyond the clink and clang of glass and pots, I could hear Maria and her father wrestling and chasing each other through the house. Their laughter came from deep in their guts.
"Daddy, again!'' she would shout.
And again, Daddy chased. He always does.
It took about eight years to convince my husband a child would bring us "comic relief.'' That's how I pitched it to him. He reminds me often that I was right. He finds our daughter supremely entertaining.
Of course, I knew going into the marriage that I might never have convinced him. But I reasoned it would be better to live my life with a good man who gave me no children than with a bad man who could give me many.
On the afternoon Maria was delivered via emergency C-section, it was my husband's face I was looking at as she let out her first fierce howl. He cried. I knew in that moment I was right about him. I knew he would cherish the child.
And he has. She knows it too. She pushes him a little farther than she does me.
"Does she do that to you?'' he'll ask.
"No, because you are The Suckahhhh,'' I say, laughing. He's okay with that.
"When she gets arrested one day, you know she's not going to call me, right?'' I say often. He's also okay with that.
"She loves her daddy,'' he says often.
I take great pleasure in watching Maria with her father. They are rock-solid. It soothes my soul to know she never will question her father's heart. I say that because I have two fathers. One who gave me DNA and one who raised me. The latter is the Santa hat-wearing one who visits us often and loves us a lot. Maria adores him. Calls him "Abuelito'' -- Grandpa in Spanish. The former is, for many complicated reasons, not in our lives. That absence has been a source of pain and a continued exercise in powerlessness.
The other night my husband came downstairs after telling Maria bedtime stories. "I asked her what she thought of when she thought about Daddy,'' he said. "She said ‘Somebody who tells me he loves me a lot.'''
And then he grinned a very big grin. I grinned with him.
And, then I hugged my daughter's good -- very, very good -- father.