The LGBTQ Dad with the New Job That's Getting in the Way of Fatherhood
Welcome to Esquire’s Journal Project. This month, we’re featuring the real lives of fathers, pops, busy dads, sexy zaddys, sugar daddies, and more. We’re asking all sorts of fathers to give their unfiltered accounts of what's it's like to lead a family in the strangest of times. Here are their stories.
Today, a dad tries to set a good example for his 11-year-old daughter while hitting OKRs at his six-month-old job. In between burying his nose in his laptop for work and introducing his precocious prepubescent to the wonders of BL dramas, he can't help but be bothered by the antics of a new pooch, which he's not entirely sure he wants to keep. What's a dad to do?
Orb—the four-month-old Pomeranian we bought as a gift for our 11-year-old daughter Sadako—just woke me up with his incessant barking. I don’t know what he wants and I don’t care. I want to go back to sleep but I can’t. I take a peek at my sleeping daughter only to find out she’s already awake and gadget-ing. She’s using the wireless headphones we ordered online. Now I know why she asked me to buy it; so I wouldn't hear it when she’s using her gadget (when she's not supposed to be using it).
I just finished three work tasks and I feel fulfilled, but I still have around 33 tasks to do for today. I started a new job six months ago and I just got regularized but I can't take it easy. I have a boss to please and OKRs to meet. Sadako (that’s my daughter’s name) is beside me, asking for 800 Robux (around P500) for the nth time, and without taking my eyes off my laptop, I give her a firm "No." Girl, I just paid for your tuition—the whole amount for the whole year—so no, I can't spare P500 for your gaming pleasure.
I haven't eaten yet. But instead of going to the kitchen to get some food, I vacuum the bedroom floor because Orb has been shedding and I don't want Sadako's allergy to return. I really want to eat already but I first have to mop the floor because she spilled a cup of Yakult (from three bottles) and then get a delivery downstairs. The package contains cauliflower, broccoli, squash, and frozen blueberries—stuff we bought Orb, and stuff we ourselves don't get to eat.
Finally done with work for today. I feel feverish and I wanna skip dinner and just sleep, but I choose to spend some quality time with Sadako. We eat an unhealthy dinner composed of hamburgers and fries while watching a Pinoy BL (Boys’ Love) series that I’ve seen before. I am proud of my daughter every time there is a romantic scene between the two male leads and she doesn’t say anything homophobic or judgmental.
I should already sleep so I could wake up early tomorrow and get a head start at work but instead I watch some random YouTube and TikTok videos, and tell myself they’re good for my mental health. I check on my already sleeping daughter and make sure the room is not too cold. Orb the Pom is also already in la-la land and looks cute. He is only cute when he is asleep.
I am devouring a Famous Bowl from KFC like I am in a speed-eating contest. I am starving coz this is my first meal of the day. I went straight to work after waking up, and I can't wait to finish this bowl (happening in the next 10 seconds) because there's more work to do. Orb keeps barking coz he hasn't eaten yet and is jealous, triggered by the scent of the mashed potatoes or gravy. Sadako on the other hand is busy watching YouTube—one of the best nannies I've ever had.
I have five minutes to take a break. I get my heaven-sent Katinko roll-on and, well, roll it on my forehead. I also put some on my palm, rub my hands together, and bring them to my nose so I could inhale its fragrance. Orb is taking a nap, so there is silence and order at home. Sadako is watching Mr. Bean while playing with this weirdly cute bunny hat that has ears that move when you press its paws. I want to spend time with my daughter but I have a report to finish.
I attend a Zoom meeting. I get to present my part within the first 15 minutes. Afterward, I inattentively listen to the rest of my officemates’ updates and from time to time think of how I haven’t been spending a lot of quality time with my daughter. I really want to, but work takes up a big chunk of my day, and when I am not working I don’t have the energy to do anything except nap. Or sniff Katinko.
I force Sadako to watch the Pinoy BL series Gaya sa Pelikula. We just finished Gameboys and Hello Stranger. I have been forcing her to watch these shows because it’s Pride month. She asks me when we’re gonna watch a show or a movie about lesbians.
I look at Orb. He’s lying on his back, asleep, looking cute. He was so much cuter when we got him three months ago. And timid and well-behaved. Now he’s bigger and noisy and picky when it comes to food. Sometimes he barks at me like crazy and looks at me like he wants to bite me and, in those moments, I remember all the food he rejected and wasted, and all the stuff he's destroyed at home—and I decide that I want to sell him or give him back to his original owners. But that would break my daughter’s heart. And her mom’s.
A baby cockroach just landed on my arm and I make a scene. I brush it away and stand up and brush it away some more even if I know I’d already brushed it off my arm. This wakes up Orb. I look at him looking at me. His eyes look like Princess Diana’s.
Noise wakes me up. Sadako and her mom are laughing and teasing Orb because he is humping his bed. Life for me has changed dramatically ever since Orb arrived. The house is always a mess. We need to be careful and move around him. There are so many additional expenses. I really want our old life back but it’s so hard to want that when I see them so happy with him.
I know I always say I am tired coz of work and that I wanna spend more quality time with my daughter but I am now at Starbucks enjoying this salty plant-based muffin and a new really good Frappuccino. I need my me time. I've been here for an hour and while I have been coordinating with my officemates through Lark messages, I miss my laptop and all the work tasks I can do only on it. I'm also excited to bring home a Venti cup of the new Chocolate Choux Cream Frappuccino, which Sadako loved at first sip.
I am finishing a report. I just want to be done with it so I can start my weekend, even if I have to work for some hours tomorrow. I'm listening to some music while updating my weekly report, and I hear Sadako ask me something. I don't catch it and I don't let her finish; I tell her to ask me later coz I'm still working.
I'm done with my report. I quickly go through everything to make sure I can already heave a sigh of relief and start my weekend once I close my laptop. While going through tabs I hear Orb barking, and Sadako and her mom laughing. I don't know what they're talking about but I really want to be part of it already. Oh, and grab some dinner, too.
We're watching the Balenciaga Clones Spring 2022 Collection on Vogue.com. I watched it already but I want my daughter to see it and so we're now watching it together. She didn't want to, at first, since she's not interested in fashion much. But I told her I was willing to do anything for her after the video, so she agreed. My part of the deal? Plucking her eyebrows.
I am plucking Sadako's eyebrows. Finally. She's been bugging me for days, bothered by her unibrow. I have work later so while I still have some free time I agree to groom her eyebrows. She groans every time a strand is plucked, and I remind her not to expect a major makeover transformation. She can go to the salon for legit eyebrow shaping. I give her my iPhone so she can check my work. It's not noticeable, she says, and then decides to use my phone to check TikTok videos.
We are watching Spider-Man, as in the first one with Tobey Maguire and his pink, almost red lips. Halfway through the movie, Sadako gets bored and says we can just continue watching it later. Part of me wants to push for us to finish it now, knowing I won't have time later coz of a series of live streams I need to monitor from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. But then again I need to wash the dishes and record LEGO Minifigures unboxing videos for my new LEGO TikTok account. And so I agree. Later, Peter.
I am finally done with work so I go and wake up Sadako who, wearing her jeans and shirt and hoodie and fingerless gloves, fell asleep a little after dinner. She most probably got tired just gadget-ing the whole day. I wake her up and ask her to brush her teeth, complete with stories to scare her if she doesn't do so.
I am exhausted and sleepy, but I want this Saturday to count, so I try to stay up and listen to new releases on Spotify while chatting with some people and thinking of what to watch later on Netflix. Or HBO Go, since I ended up subscribing to it for three months because of the Friends reunion. I want to eat chips but Orb will smell them and go berserk and just bark endlessly. And so I wait for him to go to sleep. I look at Orb and he's looking back at me. His eyes look sleepy.
I get home, lock the door, and put down my stuff: dragonfruit (for Orb), plastic containers (for Sadako’s art stuff), Buy 1-Take 1 wet wipes (for Orb) and anti-dandruff shampoo (for Sadako) from the mall, plus food from Jollibee (not for Orb) that I had delivered through Grab. I can’t wait to take a quick shower.
I am sipping on some hot oolong tea at Starbucks. Bummed they don’t have green tea or chamomile but that’s all right. I just had a haircut AND a massage, and I feel so good and recharged. I’m going home in a bit, after I get Sadako her Frappuccino. Nothing for Orb; I already got him dragonfruit from the mall earlier.
Sadako thanks me for the Jolly Hotdog and the Frappuccino I got her for dinner. I really should get her healthier stuff, I know. Orb meanwhile is being fed some dragonfruit. Me? Hungry but skipping dinner. I hope I don’t cave later and binge on some junk food.
Sadako is so happy with her bunny hat (it’s popular on TikTok) and she tells me it’s so swag and that it’s a good deal coz it has a 4.8 rating online and 136 people have bought it. I ask her to sleep already, and she continues to tell me stuff: how she respects her friend’s decision to buy a bunny hat with LED lights, how Victoria Adeyinka is already 18, how she doesn’t want to finish Spider-Man 2 tomorrow, and how Orb at four months is so smart and that she wasn’t as smart when she was four months old.
Sadako is asleep, but Orb is…not on his best behavior. He is barking and running around and eating tissue and playing with his bowl, spilling its contents. He keeps on barking and it’s annoying and I snap so I kick on a stool, which almost hits him, and he is shookt. He goes outside the room and keeps quiet. I feel guilty.
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