Love’s got style

By Mir
April 2, 2009

I remember being told, long ago, that you fall in love with your spouse all over again when you see him falling in love with your child. This was, of course, in reference to my first baby, and I do remember the warm-n-fuzzy feelings of watching my ex unfold as a father, even though it often feels like that happened in a galaxy far, far away, approximately thirty billion light years ago.

No one ever told me that, somehow, that experience would be magnified a thousandfold to watch my husband embrace his role as stepfather. He had no part in creating these children; they are not from or of him; he never went through the process of deciding to bring another human into this world; and if not for me, he would never have entered parenthood (and that would’ve been okay with him).

For me, there’s also the sort of double-bonus in watching my kids weave his presence into their landscape, effortlessly.

Last night we’d finished dinner, and Chickadee came around to my seat and began playing with my hair. It was still straight from the previous night’s fancying, which rendered it irresistible to her. She flipped pieces of it this way and that, and I told her to go get a brush and “make me pretty.” She was only too happy to oblige.

So Otto and I continued to chat, and she was hard at work on brushing and arranging my hair, when I got a phone call. A business call, actually, so I ended up getting up and retreating to my office for a bit.

When I came back, expecting to sit down and resume being pampered, I found that my position had been usurped.

With me gone, Chickadee had done the logical thing—she’d moved on to playing with Otto’s hair. And Otto was perfectly happy to sit and enjoy being groomed, but the thing that absolutely astounded me is that EVEN AFTER Chickadee ran to retrieve some ponytail holders, he continued sitting there, calmly, allowing her to do whatever she wanted.

So when she started putting his hair into little pigtails, he just let her.

Maybe this doesn’t surprise YOU at all, but… I don’t even know if I can explain.

It’s not that Otto isn’t compassionate and kind, because he is. And it’s not that he’s a chauvinist, because he isn’t.

It’s more that Otto believes in certain… rules and roles. And I’m POSITIVE that prior to acquiring a couple of short family members, the very idea of allowing anyone to put purple ponytail holders in his hair was enough to cause his gonads to retreat up into his abdominal cavity. (As was that sentence. You’re soooooo welcome, honey!)

Chickadee was downright merry, bouncing around, checking her handiwork, and cackling with glee when she saw me approaching with the camera.

Otto wore a look of grim resignation, but I wasn’t fooled. He was totally enjoying himself.

Not that he’s planning on any purple ponytails as a fashion statement, or anything, but he’s not dumb. He knows what it means when a hormonal pre-teen takes the time to make you look ridiculous.

(It means she totally thinks you’re only half as annoying as her mother.)

Happy Love Thursday, everyone. Here’s to the love that was never planned, but becomes a part of your style because you just can’t help it.


  1. mamajama

    I love the last line. It’s so beautiful. I think all love is like that. Unplanned and beautiful. Thanks for sharing this moment.

  2. otto

    I was waiting to be groomed this morning but no one wanted to do it. So unfair …


  3. exile on mom street


    As an adoptive mom, I can relate a bit. Watching my husband fiercely love a child that is not from or of him is magical.

  4. annette

    I think the same thing about our adopted kids…

  5. Randi

    Awww! As a woman who had a dad who more or less abandoned her, and a step-dad who never stepped into the role of “dad”, I’m crying buckets right now.

    I hope that, as they grow older, both kiddos realize how lucky they are to have so many people who love them.

  6. liz

    You know Chickadee has spoiled him now though. See his comment? You’re going to have to start getting up earlier every morning to do his hair for him. Or you’re going to have to find him one of those southern beauty shops (preferably in a trailer) like in “Steel Magnolias” where he can go get his hair set once a week.

  7. MomCat

    Samurai chic!

  8. Alicia

    My dad joined us when I was 7. 23 years later, he is still my biggest fan. My favorite moment was watching him when he met my son for the first time. You wouldn’t beleive the love affair between my son and his “pap pap”. The love that is chosen is always the best!

  9. Half Assed Kitchen

    Next time maybe she could get out something with heat. Like a curling iron! Also, I recommend the Mason Pearson brush. It’s really the best thing for dad hair.

  10. Amelia

    Can I tell you that I get all giddy on Thursday mornings when I remember what day it is and that you’ll have a Love Thursday post? And this is one of my favorites.

    Once again, you remind me that love can make broken things feel whole again.

  11. Aimee

    Well, Otto, I must say that purple suits you. ;)

  12. dad

    Why can’t every day be Thursday?

  13. Barbara

    Lovely! As usual, Mir.

    Nice head of hair, St. Otto, for your age, that is. Ahem.

    All love is chosen.

  14. O.G.

    Good story…I am always amazed at the closeness that my cousins have with their step father…it’s a bond closer than I have with my parents.

    Maybe it’s something about the fact that they don’t HAVE to accept each other like you do with blood family members…it’s purely by choice.

  15. Damsel

    My grandad used to let my sisters do the same thing to him… thanks for bringing up the memories.

  16. Shelley

    I remember my cousin doing this to her dad (that was an adoption situation as well) while we were on one of our beach vacations as kids. The only thing – she didn’t stop after she put about 6 tiny ponytail on his head. She quickly moved on to his chest hair.

    And my Uncle Geesie sat there looking so very happy & content just to be making his beloved daughter giggle. What a wonderful dad he was!

  17. Heathir

    I so needed the last sentence of your post today. You’ll never know how much it helped. Thank you

  18. Tracy

    What a good sport. I only hope you know how completely and truly blessed you are for such a wonderful partner in life. I, too, have been so blessed.

  19. Katie in MA

    @Otto – Perhaps you can only wear your purple-banded pony tails on work mornings if you’re ready by a certain time? :)

    If I ever get married again (which I won’t), I hope my girls and I are lucky enough to “win” someone as fabulous as you.

    Happy Love Thursday, Mir’s fam!

  20. Burgh Baby

    I think maybe, just maybe, you should keep Otto. He’s sort of a good guy.

  21. Ariel

    I LOVE my fiancee and would marry him in a heartbeat but seeing how much he loves my daughter and how much she loves him back makes what we have so much more meaningful and special.
    My ex husband pretends to be a father every other weekend for a few hours, the man who will be my husband IS her father, 24/7. She is 5, and she knows it.
    Brian calls every morning after I’ve dropped her off at school to ask how she was when I dropped her off, and calls to see if she had a good day at school. Even when he can just wait an hour to get home to ask- it makes her feel good to know he cares. It’s the reading her stories and playing with her and the tucking her into bed at night.. Its the whole package.
    I would love him even if I didn’t have a child- but I love him 1000x more because I do.

  22. Diane

    I love the term “Pony Holders”. Never heard that before…Elastics…or Hair Elastics…hehe cute.

  23. Libby

    Awww so sweet! My dad would let me do the same thing to him.

  24. Carrie

    My great uncle is totally bald, and from what I have been told, he has been that way since he was 17. He used to let my mom and my aunt cut out pictures of hair from a magazine and tape it to his head. The post made me think of that and the look of sheer joy they would get when they would re-tell the story.

  25. Tami

    It occurs to me that I’ve seen many “ROCK STARS” sporting purple pony tails-maybe Otto’s got some reggae moments in his future. Ya Mon!

  26. karen

    Love, Love, Love this, Mir. And love how your life is turning out… isn’t love grand?

  27. Tammy

    My parents divorced when I was 8 and my mom never remarried because my stepmother situation wasn’t ideal and she did not want to subject me to the turmoil of dealing with a stepfather as well. I have never wished that she had remarried as much as I do at this moment after reading this. Having an Otto in my life would have made my childhood so much better. Love Thursday, indeed.

  28. mama speak

    The best dads are usually the ones that are so unexpected. My brother was one of those guys who you just knew would always have kids and would be a great dad, and he is. My husband is one of those guys who people were actually shocked when he got married, and then when we had kids and they were both GIRLS well, I know the neighborhood back home was a twitter w/”poor Mama is really going to be out there on her own.” His parents are always amazed at what a great, involved dad he is. I’m not, but they are. I always knew he’d be the dad our kids need, just like he’s the husband I need. But I do enjoy hearing the comments from others.

  29. Headless Mom

    Really great. Love the ‘do, Otto!

  30. Dawn

    As the mother of two girls whose dad has more or less stepped out of their lives and whose stepmother has never stepped up to the plate and has in fact all but demanded their dad’s withdrawal, I would like to point out just how wonderful Otto is.

    Just in case you hadn’t noticed yet.

    Like Tammy’s mother (two comments up), I have felt it unfair to inflict another stepparent on my two. Then again, should any man behave as their stepmother has, he’d have last been seen tumbling a*se over teakettle down my front steps.

    Yay, Otto!

  31. mamalang

    I used to do this with my grandfather. That is love.

  32. Lois

    One of my favorite memories: Daddy letting me curl his hair with clips and bobby pins. And if someone came to the door, he’d invite them in for coffee and let me finish what I started. Your husband rocks.

  33. Michelle

    Reminds me of the time my dad let me paint his toenails red. :)

  34. Hula Doula

    A daddy’s love no matter whether from step or otherwise is a positive love that will shape her expectations in a husband one day.
    It is wonderful to see you all going through this process. I know I am a year behind at least but it is a beautiful thing.

  35. Character Builder

    I’m not sure if you’re a country music fan or not, but have you ever heard of Brad Paisley’s song, “He Didn’t Have To Be?” You can see it here:

    Today’s post really reminded me of it. Great story.

  36. BethR

    I was one of those kids lucky enough to have an “Otto” appear in their lives. Matter of fact, he’s going to be here on Wednesday for a long daddy/daughter weekend!

    Love rocks!

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