One of my daughter’s great joys in life is to help her dad make muffins. As they bake in the oven, she will spread a blanket in the living room, and when they are ready we will have ourselves a late-evening picnic of tea and oven-fresh muffins.
Whenever she hungers for this special time with her father, she will dance up to him in that half-skipping way she has and ask, ever so hopefully, “Dad, will you be the muffin man?”
And I will suddenly feign deep interest in whatever I’m reading as I furtively watch them over the top of the page.
I can see his struggle. He can’t be the muffin man tonight. He has 101 things to do and they all need doing before he can rest. He worked at full tilt all day long; he is tired. He is constantly pulled by the needs of others, and needs a minute to himself before he can give more.
It never fails to stir my heart to see my weary husband dig deep within himself and respond to his sweet, shining daughter in a terrible French accent: “Tonight, we hava ze bloo-bear-wee muff-eenz.”
Then he will change out of his uniform and wash the grime of the day off his hands. I will put on some tea and find the tiniest cups in the house. And we will have a muffin party late at night in our living room.
It never fails to remind me that many men, and fathers especially, feel tremendous pressure to be bullet-proof. Even during a recession, they are supposed to be great providers. At all times, they are expected to be more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. It seems like they strive to be Superman.
But my daughter never asks for a superhero. She loves her muffin man.