I may be wrong, but I think that before Monkey Man was born, Joey had never held a baby before. He didn’t know much about babies or how to take care of them. He did, however, know all of the words to his college fight song and the virtues of the different types of bourbon so that was his saving grace for me to keep him around.
He didn’t have the best of childhoods himself. My father-in-law, you see, is an alcoholic. He was verbally and physically abusive. For several years, he left the family to go work out in the Midwest so at the tender age of 7, Joey was thrust into the role of head of the household. That’s some pretty heavy shit to lay on a kid who should’ve been watching Justice League and playing Pac Man. And when his dad was home, the whole house was in a state of emergency, everyone fending for their own self-preservation.
So I think that he approached the whole fatherhood thing with a great amount of trepidation. He actually turned out to be quite the natural, even when Monkey Man was an infant. I would find the two of them curled up in the recliner, watching Baby Einstein together and marvel at what a natural instinct he possessed. At times, it even made me a little jealous because he was able to relax and enjoy a lot of the moments that kept me ridden with anxiety.
We have a pretty good partnership together. We even each other out – when one of us is totally bent over something going on with MM, the other one can usually smooth it out and present a different point of view that doesn’t make the situation seem so bad. We share a lot of the parenting duties as much as possible with his work schedule. And we enjoy spending time together as a family. He reminds me of my own dad in a lot of ways, who despite being gone a lot when I was young is one of the most caring, loving, and generous people I have ever met in my life. And I feel really lucky to have found anyone even 1/10th as great as he is.
Joey told me one time that his entire mission in life was to be a better dad than his father was. He has succeeded, in spades. It used to make me upset when people would tell me constantly that Monkey Man looks just like Joey – but now, I’m thankful for that. Thankful that if Monkey Man is anything like his old man, he will be one hell of a dad someday.