Every morning Dipity brushes her teeth. Dipity is very excited by the prospect of brushing her teeth. All I have to do is ask whether she wants to brush her teeth," and then sprint off towards the bathroom. Well, actually it's not all I have to do. As soon as we reach the bathroom, she says "dada," and points at my toothbrush. So, once she is doing her toothbrush as lollipop thing, I commence brushing my teeth, as directed. I brush my teeth more thoroughly then at any other time of the day ... or moment in my life. I could be featured on a dental health video. She is lollipop girl. The toothbrush never moves once it enters her mouth. When I transition to spit and rinse, she is done too. She isn't always done with the brush, but as soon as I ask her to put it away with mommy and daddy's, she puts it away. She is a fiend for order.
It was at the end of this ritual when, last week, I felt my manhood threatened. Dipity pointed out everyone's toothbrush, as she always does. It was as she pointed to mama's toothbrush that I realized, for the very first time, that I don't have the biggest toothbrush. My toothbrush is shorter and thinner than my wife's. At that moment it felt like the truth of my position in life was fully exposed. When I'm raking, or painting, or staining trim I can overlook all the baking and cleaning I do. As I struggle to establish myself as a writer, and when I channel my inner feminist, I can feel like just another worker and a valuable contributor to the household. Standing in front of those toothbrushes, though, I felt smaller than small. I was no father bear. I shared a bed, I don't eat porridge, and I often sit on the floor. Hell, father bear probably didn't even brush his teeth. And then I thought of an old Chris Rock routine, and I realized I didn't even deserve the big piece of chicken. I should be giving my wife the big piece of chicken! Eventually the storm passed, and my inner Gloria Steinem took back over. I know what I do is important, and I enjoy it. I am proud to be a homemaker, child raiser, and all purpose support staff member. But, I also know that doubt is only a toothbrush away.