The Baby Daddy

Somewhere between being asleep and awake, I laid in bed wrapped up in sheets with tired eyes, listening to the sounds outside the window. In the distance, a taxi driver became impatient, two women shared a laugh, an oversized truck continued down the street, and a dog expressed concern. Tossing about and wrestling with my pillow, I tried to decide if I really wanted to nap in the afternoon or if I should get up and prepare for my night out. The cotton sheets were freshly pressed and felt so smooth against my skin, tempting me to rest for just a while longer – if only to be more enthusiastic for the hours ahead of me.

I threw my leg over a pillow the same way I would a man and shut my eyes, hoping the noises below would subside long enough for some shut-eye. All was quiet and still except for the sound of the air conditioner running and the pipes busily working away. Just as I was about to drift away, I heard something that almost always makes me beam:

Children’s laughter.

It was simple and subtle, happily filling the sidewalk and bouncing off the buildings to echo up to the apartment. Drowsily, I peeked out the blinds, attempting to shield my eyes from the sudden sunlight. Right outside was a blond-haired-blue-eyed family of  five with two little girls and an older boy. They looked like they lived in New York, dressed in preppy clothes and looking comfortable int he mayhem – a trait that only comes with living in a city. They happily  played with one another and giggled away, their parents keeping a look out for them while talking. This clan was just about picture-perfect as it could be and I smiled at their beauty.

In watching them, I was reminded of some advice an older woman once gave me when I asked her for relationship advice. We were standing outside a cute cafe in the Flat Iron district, saying out goodbyes after a Cobb-Salad-and-Diet-Coke lunch. After a brief hug, she said, “When you’re dating someone, stop imagining yourself getting married to them. See if you can imagine them as the father of your kids.”

She isn’t the only one to give me such wisdom, my friend K said something along those same lines when comparing two men she dated. She said that while she would think about marriage with one, her feelings were so much stronger and felt so much more real with the guy she could see as a dad. At the times they both challenged me to think that way, I wasn’t interested in what they had to say. It sounded sweet, sure, but if I could imagine the nuptials, wouldn’t I naturally see nurseries, too?

Not really – there’s a big difference between seeing someone as the husband and seeing someone as the baby daddy.

I rolled over in bed and stared up at the ceiling, noticing cobwebs I needed to knock down and though I’m nowhere near marriage or babies, I tried to picture myself with a family. Could I see the strollers and the bottles? Can I see someone kissing my belly, anticipating the arrival of our child? Could I see little pigtails and tiny trucks? Onesies and picking out baby names?

Have I ever dated someone who proved to me he could be that supportive, that kind-hearted, that responsible, that dependable, that loving – to be a dad? It was simple, when I really entertained the idea – I had never been in a relationship like that. I had never really met someone or dated someone who I could see that with.

But maybe that’s the point anyway – it’s very rare to come across someone like that. True Baby Daddies who want to be fathers, who would be the type of guy who not only plays catch and plays dress up, but is financially and emotionally stable enough to stand by his family and provide for them – are few-and-far-between.  And when looking for a match, you can’t just focus on how romantic or dreamy they may be, but if they are the type of man who you could see wishing your children sweet dreams as they go to bed.

Who doesn’t just call you baby – but will make a great daddy to your babies.