There is something about watching a father with his children that sparks an indescribable emotion inside of me. It reminds me of childhood moments with my father. At bathtime, he would wrap me up in a huge towel and let me stand on his feet while he danced me to my room singing, “One, two, three, four, mambo!” But watching other fathers sometimes reminds me of moments that we never had together. Now that my father is gone, it also represents the moments we will never have. It’s like a collision of happiness, envy, sadness, and regret that fills my chest and creeps into my throat. That’s exactly the way I felt when I saw the latest picture of President Obama watching his wife’s speech last night on the couch with his daughters. A tidal wave of those very same emotions came over me.
Without words, a picture can force us to relive our own experiences or make us yearn for feelings and experiences that we never knew. That is part of the power of photographs and part of the intrigue with President Obama. We are confronted with images of a wonderful and supportive husband and dad who manifests love, devotion, and respect in every fiber of his bones. It leaves us whispering quietly to ourselves, “I want that!”
To many people, Obama represents the idea that it is really possible to find true love, have a wonderful family, along with a life partner who is also a doting parent. In the midst of a myriad of dysfunctional relationships scattered all over the television screen, we are presented with an image of a dad and a relationship that is the 2012 version of the Claire and Cliff Huxtable we grew up with. Irrespective of his politicial platform or policies, President Obama represents the hope that one day our partner will look at us in the exact same way that he looks at Michelle and that our own children will be loved and adored just like Sasha and Malia.