The Meat and Potatoes of Life: Fatherly love has an unmistakable moment

| June 19, 2015 | 0 Comments


Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer
“Do you want a boy or girl?” I asked, lazing in bed, seven months pregnant on a Saturday morning.

Francis, my husband of 15 months, lay beside me while we both gazed through the lace sheers billowing over our bedroom window at the sun-soaked Cypress tree in our little Fort Ord backyard.

Without the early morning responsibilities that a baby would soon bring to our weekends, we were free to lie around for hours, listening to the birds chirp and wondering what our life might bring. On rainy days, we rolled from our bed to the living room couch, watching old movies late into the afternoon in sweatpants and slippers, only running out for popcorn and take out. On sunny weekends, we’d maybe get up and go on a hike in Big Sur, stopping at a local restaurant for fresh Monterey Bay squid steaks or at our friends’ house near Lover’s Point for cookouts.

We believed that working all week entitled us to self-indulgent weekends, and we had no idea that, after less than two years of marriage, having a baby would strip us of that luxury for good.

“Well,” Francis responded, after a pause to imagine our future as parents, “I think I’d look good carrying a girl around.”

How odd, I thought. I had assumed that my question – a common one between expectant parents – would prompt him to compare and contrast the experiences he might have raising a son or daughter.

Would he want to fish with his son? Throw baseballs in the yard? Or would he prefer to be called into his daughter’s room for tea parties? But instead, Francis expressed his preference for a boy or a girl based solely upon which one might compliment his physical appearance.I hoped that this man I thought I knew, with his arm draped possessively over my swollen belly, was not a closet narcissist intent on using his offspring as wardrobe accessories.

“You know what I mean,” he plainly retorted, as if everyone who has answered that question thought first of their appearance. “When I imagine being a father, I see myself walking around with a little girl wearing pink booties and a lace bonnet and all that.”

“What do you mean, you’d look good carrying a girl around?” I asked.
He went on to describe how other people might see him in public, and think, “Oh, look how cute that dad is over there carrying his sweet little baby girl.”

I listened, trying desperately to understand Francis’ point of view, but I was worried. Are we too selfish to be parents?

Proud papa Francis Molinari, with first child, Hayden.

Proud papa Francis Molinari, with first child, Hayden.

“It’s a boy!” the obstetrician yelled two months later. A nine-pounder, Hayden Clark Molinari, entered our world on a rainy spring evening in 1995, and Francis quite suddenly became a father.

In an instant, our priorities were forever reordered. Like all parents, we lost ourselves in the blur of diapers, bottles, blankets, booties, rectal thermometers and 3 a.m. feedings.

Francis didn’t notice that I looked like I’d been hit by a Mack truck, and I was oblivious to the fact that he was wearing the same spit-up-stained sweatshirt for three days in a row. We were too caught up in the sheer wonder of the little bundle of 10 toes and 10 fingers we’d created to care. The rest of the world melted away.

Francis got his baby girls a few years later, but he never mused about what his children made him look like again.

Now don’t get me wrong. Francis never completely gave up his interest in his physical appearance. He still checks himself out in shop windows, turning to the side to sneak a peek at his tush. He still checks himself out in shop windows, turning to the side to sneak a peek at his tush. He still demands to be photographed when he’s feeling particularly dapper. On the dance floor, he still plays to the crowd. But now that Francis is a dad, his responsibility to our family is his top priority.

And I must admit, fatherhood looks pretty damned good on him.
(A 20-year military spouse and mother of three, Molinari has plenty of humor to share in her column, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” which appears in military and civilian newspapers and at

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