The Dumpling Is Like the Cat I Never Had

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Coming home from work is my favorite part of the day. It has been 12 hours since I last saw the Dumpling, so surely she would have missed me as I have missed her. The poor girl had probably spent her whole day waiting for mommy to shower her with hugs and kisses.

At least that was what I thought as I walked through the front door.

“Sweetie, Mommy is home!” Expecting the scene that I just envisioned to play out, I held open my arms and waited.

The Dumpling glanced at me and then continued watching The Secret Life of Pets for the umpteenth time.

“Sweetheart?” I called again.

My daughter didn’t even turn her head this time.

“Can you give mommy a hug?” I waited with my arms still wide open. I eventually gave up and went over to hug and kiss her instead.

Weekday evenings can be rough. It’s always a mad dash to leave work at 5:30 pm just to spend the next 1.5 hours sitting through New York City rush hour traffic. When I get home around 7:00 pm, it’s time to start my second job as the Dumpling’s mommy.

On this particular night, it was 7:30 pm by the time the Dumpling was fed and cleaned, but I needed to keep her occupied for another few minutes to vaccuum the trail of crumbs she left all over the house and pack her food for daycare tomorrow.

“Do you want to watch Masha and the Bear?” I asked her as I turned on Netflix. The Dumpling nodded and climbed on the couch. That would be approximately 10 minutes of uninterrupted free time I just bought myself, so I hurried back into the kitchen. After I was done, I peeped into the living room to check on the Dumpling. Finding that she was still content with watching TV, I rummaged through the fridge for some leftovers and popped the plate in the microwave. I finally had some time to myself!

I was maybe four bites in when the Dumpling scurried over.

“Ma-nye, poe poe!” She said with arms wide open and the saddest look on her face.

“Aw, sweetie! You finally want mommy to hold you?” I forgave all previous transgressions and scooped her up.

“Sit.” The Dumpling instructed while pointing to the living room couch. I carried her over and she snuggled up in between my arms as we watched TV together. When she made a silly face in imitation of the main character, we both giggled hysterically.

My daughter is like a cat that I never had: she demands my attention when it suits her but pretends that I don’t exist when it doesn’t. At that moment, all she wanted was her mommy, so I held her even tighter because moments like this were worth everything that I worked so hard for.

The Dumpling then perked up when she heard the front door opened.

“Daddy! Daddy!” She said with the biggest smile on her face and ran over with arms wide open…just like the scene I had envisioned for myself earlier.

For the rest of the night, I was relegated to nonexistent.

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