Becoming a New Father, Slowly
By ANDREW NOVOTNY
My son feels like a part of me. Like my right hand. My love for him is different from my love for my family or my wife. I enjoyed seeing him, like I enjoyed looking in a mirror. When he cried, it didn’t startle me. His pain felt like when I’d scrape my knee. I was stoic about it, as if it was happening to me. I’d forget that I was holding him. It felt so natural to be with him, like he’d always been there. Was I “enjoying him?” Do you enjoy having hair? Um…I guess.
After four months, I started to get the hang of things. I took Pollock to and from daycare, explaining the world around him a little bit more each day. I’d strap him into a BabyBjorn so he could help me do the household chores, washing dishes, vacuuming up, doing the laundry. He tried to sing along to the songs I’d play on the ukulele. Our bond grew a bit each day.
The chapter titles in some of the pregnancy books we read featured “Being a Mom” versus “Becoming a Father.” I joked about it then, and now I find that it’s true: you are instantly a mom, but you become a father. My wife was never more needed than she was that first day, and will never be again. Her journey requires a steady sequence of letting go (giving birth, going back to work, weaning from the breast). My journey is in reverse, it’s a steady sequence of getting closer.
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