In my mind I could hear the phone ringing, but my eyes were fixated on the first page of a chapter in my thesis that needed work. All I could think about was how sick I was of that thesis. It all seemed pointless. None of the contents of this two hundred–page document was going to change the world in the slightest way . . .
It cut through me like a knife. Not a sharp one—quick and hot and over immediately, no. That would have been too simple. Jacob’s first meltdown was more like a dull, rusted blade that sawed its way back and forth over my heart . . .
The lights went out. His parents always turn the light out, even though he asks if they can stay on. The lights went out, and his room transformed. The posters on his walls disappeared underneath a blanket of darkness. The bed gradually seemed further and further from the ground. The lights went out, and the monsters came out to play . . .
It was a normal stay-at-home dad day for me. I was chatting with tall, thirty-something Dominique, broad-shouldered in a sundress, big hands like fluttering pigeons. She was paying her daughter’s college tuition by watching a pair of three-year-old twin boys whose parents sold antiques in the West Village. Dominique held my attention and that of a couple of moms—Juliet, a single bartender, and Sage, an erstwhile graphic designer whose husband renovated brownstones. They each had a toddler. As usual, I was the only dad in the park. But caregiver-ship trumped gender. I was, essentially, one of the gals . . .