The Greater Good

Josef looked at his little daughter, a bundle of smiles and tears, blue cloth and tawny skin, coos and giggles. He grinned, adoring, while his wife rested from the daily trials.

“My little baby,” Josef said. “How sweet you are. Who’s the sweetest little girl? Who is? You are!”

The baby giggled in delight, happy to know that she, of all babies, was the sweetest. Or at least, the sweetest in her half of the population. Such trivialities were lost on her, though – all she knew was that she was loved.

Josef picked his baby girl up, holding her close. He remembered a moment later to through the towel over his shoulder, protecting his nice shirt in case she spit up. But she didn’t – it had been some thirty minutes since she had fed, and though that meant another in an hour or two, she was, for now, happy, healthy, and pleased to be held.

“Okay, baby girl,” Josef said, giving her a kiss on one cheek, then on the other. “Time for you to lie down and sleep. Let your mother rest. Your father needs to go to work, and bring home lots of money to raise you with!” he poked her nose, and she laughed.

Josef stepped back, trying to tear himself away. She was so cute, so sweet, such a little bundle of love for him. She had only been in the world for a few weeks, and as he turned away, leaving her to settle in for a nap, he felt annoyed at the demands of work. Why, he thought, can I not stay to raise her? I wish that I could take some decent paternity leave…

He would, eventually. Of a sort. In a years’ time, once his wife finished her maternity leave, he would take over, taking the full six weeks allowed him, and continue to care for the girl. He had another month and half of vacation banked, as well, to keep raising her. After that, it would be daycare, and raising in the evenings, and hoping she would turn out right, and that this whole thing would work well, and he worried and worried and worried.

He considered calling in sick, taking another day off, but he knew he couldn’t. They couldn’t afford to lose one of their jobs, earn less, be without.

So Josef left, left his little girl, his darling, his sleeping wife. Off to earn, he thought. For a greater good.

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