Sunday, January 12, 2014

3rd Times the Charm

For unto me a child is born.  This week my wife delivered child number three.  I was pretty nervous to begin this journey well as I pretty well botched this stage with the other two.  I've never been much of a baby guy.  When my first was born I was somewhat surprised in the days following that she was, in fact, a baby.  I was expecting a small human but a newborn was a shock.  A lot of the dads around me told me their favorite stage of being a dad was holding that newborn sleeping on their chest those first few months.  I didn't get it.

I did not love my daughter on first site.  She was family but it was not the kind of immediate paternal affection I was expecting.  As horrible and selfish as it sounds I did not really begin to really connect to her as a daughter until she could begin doing things for me.  Smile, laugh, call me papa.  I knew it was wrong, I knew it was selfish and shallow so I was going to do it totally different on number 2.  I was going to hold the child, interact with the child, bond with the child.  Then number 2 came.

Number 2 had the cards stacked against him.  I was still not magically transformed into a baby guy.  The same other fathers kept asking me how wonderful it was to hold that little sleeping baby.  I hardly did it so I didn't have a good answer.  It was kind of weird and made me slightly uncomfortable inside?  I felt squirmy and wanted to pass off the baby first chance I had.  At the time I was also dealing with a few back to back concussions and their accompanying migraines.  The pitch of my son's cry was like a wedge splitting my bruised brain in twain.  It was hard to love a little flesh ball that did nothing but hurt my brain and poop.  My daughter took a while when she was in the "mommy" stage, but with the boy something was different.  There was a wall between us as he developed.

As my son grew I began to project on him all of the weaknesses that I saw in myself.  It took our wounded fledgling relationship and killed it.  I was angry at the little guy because he was part me.  I don't know why his masculinity threatened my own but I was afraid that I would raise a son who would end up a semi-man like myself.  I wanted to make him strong so he wouldn't have my weakness and came very close to breaking the bond we should have had as father and son.

When my son was 18 months old I decided that I had to change.  This was my son and I had to take the steps to break down the walls that I had allowed to grow between him and me.  He was a toddler and his interaction with me was a reflection of my interaction with him.  His lack of affection for me had caused me to draw further away and I had a serious paternal emergency on my hands.  I made a conscious decision to commit to love my son.  I had committed to love my wife on our wedding day, I had vowed myself to her.  Maybe I was a compassionless jerk.  Maybe something was broken in me.  That no longer mattered.  I was going to love my son, pour myself into my son, even if he never returned it.  I was not a father so I could be loved.  I was a father so that I could love.  I would seek him out, pursue him, spend time with him even if I never got a smile.  Even if he never gave me a hug.  Even if he never left the "mommy" stage I was going to love him aggressively.  I was going to be the best father I could be independent of how my son interacted with me.

It did not take very long until I had a little shadow.  My little buddy would snuggle up with me when we were watching a movie when before he would have sat at the other side of the couch.  When I went to the store he wanted to come with me.  When I leave for work he runs to the door demanding a hug before I egress.  Now he wants to be a tinker and work with me on my motorcycle.  Our relationship very quickly and dramatically reversed.

This week my third child has come and I have already committed to love him and care for him.  Through sickness and health.  Affection and frustration.  Blessing and pain.  I actually want to hold the little man and I stare into his face with a heart already filled with love.  I can actually feel some of what is reflected on my wife's beautiful face when she gazes at him sleeping.  I know I will not be a perfect father but at least I am starting in the right place this time.

1 comment:

agjacob said...

From our discussions on the matter and to see what you have done about it, I am overjoyed to see the place that you are in, my friend. Keep strong!