By Troy Flint
About three months ago, I traded my wife in for a roommate. I didn’t have much choice, actually. She found a new man who has been taking all of her time. So, I packed up my most important belonging and moved in with the girl down the hall. She’s a little bit controlling, but she’s only three and she demonstrates the capacity for personal growth, so I can’t be too judgy. Besides, she’s letting me crash rent free while my wife tends to her new beau (our 10-week old son).
It’s been a strange three months, but one of the best times of my life. Taking the divide and conquer approach to raising young children can be disorienting and is definitely not recommended for long-term relationship-building. At times, it feels like my wife is just a really good friend who lives down the hall (and happens to be attached at the bosom to our son). But on the plus side, this new living arrangement has offered a unique and special way of reinforcing my bond with my oldest daughter.
Every night, we go through the standard bedtime routine/ordeal (bathe, get in pajamas, brush teeth), then we set up our sleeping arrangement, pull the trundle bed where I sleep out from under her bedframe and make the bed (she kindly lends me one of the her extra blankets), then we crawl under the covers for nighttime stories and snuggles before passing out like we’re at sleepaway camp. In the room next door, mama and the baby execute their nighttime ritual, the precise contents of which are unclear to us but seem to revolve around copious amounts of breastfeeding.
In the morning, we rise and shine, or rise and … something less glamorous than shine, maybe pulse like a low wattage, frosted light bulb? We talk our way through countless wardrobe changes and debates over whether its suitable to wear flimsy sundresses and sandals in January, or rainboots on cloudless 93-degree days. We argue the merits of starting the morning with a healthy breakfast, discourse on the importance of healthy teeth and the social acceptability of dragon breath. We grab snacks, pack bags and pile into the car for the commute to school and work. We listen to our favorite song. I marvel at the amazing things she says and does – things I would never conceive of – and I shake my head at the aggravating things she says and does – things that remind me so much of myself. One day a week, I act as a teacher’s aide at my daughter’s preschool and even get to see her in the wild, interacting in a state of nature with the other primitives.
I’m learning so much and we’ve gotten to know each better, we’ve developed a deeper emotional intimacy, and established a comfortable, if syncopated, rhythm. It’s been a revelation. I didn’t think I could love my daughter more than I did before, but I do. My daughter is the best roommate I’ve ever had and it’s crazy to think that the introduction of another child was the gateway to the next level of this special relationship.
Photo by Federico Enni