It was a few days ago when I noticed that something strange was going on in the AfroDaddy household.
Specifically, it was the morning after a particularly sleepless night for me (occasionally my brain gets all fired up thinking about new ideas and, unfortunately, all the things that make me anxious).
Anyway, it was almost time to wake up when Boy2.0, my youngest, said good morning to me. He did this by getting his face so close to mine that I could feel his breath as he whispered to me. This was the first sign that something strange was happening because I am usually persona non grata to my boys in the morning - wakey time is their mom's dominion.
So the fact that this mommy's boy came to me was odd, but I wanted to see how far I could push my luck.
"Eli, do want a morning cuddle with daddy?"
Now that was unexpected. Boy2.0 curled up into me for 10 minutes, and then went off to find some toys. And then his brother woke up and also joined in for cuddle.
Cuddles from both boys in one morning? What was going on here?
But then the strangeness continued. There were fewer cries of "No, mommy must do it!" when it was time to get dressed or get out of the car, and there more secret conversations while "hiding" under a blanket, more giggles and, most importantly, more hugs and kisses for this mentally exhausted dad.
So...what happened? What had I done to precipitate this new level of daddy attention? I must have been on particularly great form the week before, right? I must have made an extra effort, and this was the reward, right?
To be clear, I always try to be as on top of my dad game as I can be - but I hadn't done anything extra special to get this kind of my response from my boys.
My theory? Kids aren't robots. They don't react in logical and repeatable ways to stimuli. Just like us, sometimes they are in good moods and sometimes something clicks in their heads that makes them realise that dad is actually pretty great. It almost has nothing to do with what their parents are doing at the time. Here's the point. Just because your kids don't show you the same love and adoration that they do for your partner, that doesn't mean you are failing. It means you have to just keep going - knowing that you are doing your best, and that they will come around eventually.
And if you are the partner who is getting a lot of positive feedback from the kiddos, take a moment every day (yes, EVERY day) to remind your co-parent that he or she is doing a great job and that their kids appreciate it, even if they aren't showing it right now.
All I know is, I'm going to get all the hugs, kisses and giggles I can while the going is good.