Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Month 1

Welcome, Baby Boy.  The world is not ready for your kind of awesome, if this first month of your life is any indication.  There was definitely a time when I was on the fence about having a kid, and I'm not going to lie - when we first saw those pink lines on the TWO pregnancy tests...well, let's just say those people you know as "Mom&Dad" took a deep breath and a 15 second moment of silence to commemorate an unencumbered youth.  And then, BOOM - we were parents.  Sure, it took 37 and one half weeks for you to make your appearance from that time, but your mother and I were not the same after the realization that our love had been...fruitful.

Can I take a moment to talk about your mother?  (I know this is your story, but at this point in your life your story really has more to do with Mommy than any one other thing.)  By the time you are able to read this, you will have formed your own opinions...but those opinions will be somewhat the perspective of those living in Plato's Cave.  Let me give you a more meta impression:

Your mom made you, and damn well...she read every book, considered every option, and invested herself fully into the process to cook you up right.  So much of being Dad is about watching life happen to Mom&Baby; Mom, however, is both directing the movie, playing a starring role, building the sets, marketing the film...

I know you will love your mom; I hope you can understand what it means to a woman to conceive, carry, and deliver a baby.  If you don't right away, you probably will someday if you get the chance to stand by the bedside, a sweaty clenching hand squeezing yours as a woman you live to love stares down the fear and pain and anxiety and uncertainty and pushes her body like hell for the chance to see 9 month's work realized in baby form.

And she said then, immediately after seeing your squishy, fresh, beautiful face that it was all worth it, that she would change nothing.

You do seem pretty great, so far.  Cute, and mostly easy to be with.  You sleep prodigious amounts, long naps broken up by very focused attempts to get food out of my wife's breasts (this may not be the right time to address how it feels as a man to be shoved aside in a woman's affections by a needy, burpy, farty, crybaby...I self soothe by making jokes about how you ordered the Super Sized Milk Combo at the drive through - Mom does not laugh).

Little bits of personality are starting to peak out (the honest truth is that in the first few weeks, you were most similar to a bread starter: kind of lumpy, pretty demanding, and not ready to eat (this metaphor broke down somewhere)); but now, sometimes when you are awake, with those big eyes open and looking around, I can start to imagine what kind of dude you are going to be.

Something amazing about you is your ability to restart my day and reset my attitude, just by laying there in my arms for a few minutes.  I could have had the most crap-tacular of days at work, and in the span of 10 breaths while holding you, I feel so much better, so much more real, and so much more engaged in something important to me.

People ask me how it feels to be a dad; some ask if it has "sunk in" yet.  The question invariably makes me think of my own father, and further makes me wonder if it has "sunk in" yet to him, some 33 years after my birth.  I imagine that my (wonderful, in so many ways) dad is still finding out what it means to be a see, son, it changes for me every day, even every time I look at you, or hear you crying in the other room, or hear your mom talking about you when we sit together, quietly in the next room, and reflect on our new lives.

I say "new lives", because they are new, and different in some expected ways and in some ways unexpected.  We two have never been avid TV watchers, but now when we do watch, it is often baby TV.  If you had asked me a year ago if I would like to sit and watch a 3 inch screen of a baby sleeping, I doubt I would have shown any interest.

But now, you are forever a part of me, and everything in my life is colored and changed by you...and I am glad.

You were born healthy and beautiful; your mom came through the process well.

Who can say what comes next?  I can tell you that Mom&Dad have great plans for you: we intend to read to you constantly, to stimulate your mind and the development of your body; we are committed to wrapping you in love and encouragement; we aspire to help you find your voice and place in this community, this space in the world that is already made better by your arrival.

I love you little buddy, and I can't wait to see what month 2 brings us.

I am obviously inspired by in this post; One of the things that made me a consistent fan of Heather's site was my unexpected interest in and emotional response to her sincere and touching reflections offered in the monthly updates on Leta's young life.


  1. I love this! Thanks for sharing.

  2. This may come off as unrelated to this post, but I have a question for you. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? (An introvert defined in this case as someone who recharges by spending time alone and an extrovert as someone who recharges by being around people they love.)

    I would be interested to hear your answer and then I'll tell you why this post made me ask the question.

  3. Jessica - that's a complicated question to ask an overly analytical soul like me...

    If I remember correctly, my Meyers Briggs outcomes were routinely ENFJ (sometimes ENFP); I tend to think personality tests are BS of a high order, so all caveats.

    Your stated metric is conflicted for me: I respond well to interactions with others, but mainly from a fairly intimate and intense session with one or a few people; crowds tend to make me feel exhausted. Walks, alone and with some time to let my mind wonder, are absolutely therapeutic...

    So, where does that leave us?

  4. I agree that those personality inventories are ridiculous. People are way too complex to fit into those categories. I'm like you in that I consider myself social and really enjoy being around people, although for me I even like crowds. But in terms of "re-charging", I think that I am more of an introvert. When stressed out, tired, or upset, I prefer to be by myself.

    So when I read your post I had another of my frequent, "Why am I such a bad mom" moment. Because while your day is instantly turned around by being with your son, I can have a perfectly wonderful day and be around my kids for about 10 minutes and be miserable.

    I spend a huge amount of my time observing other parents (mostly moms) and trying to figure out how what makes me absolutely insane makes them so blissfully happy and fulfilled. Much like your diet, there are too many variables to pin it down to one thing. But one of my areas of thought lately has been the extrovert vs. introvert issue.

    When you've had a crappy day, being with your son refreshes you and makes you feel better. When I've had a crappy day, being around my kids feels like I'm being drained. Even if they're being good, they NEED. And I need some time when someone doesn't need something from me, even if it's affection.

    Another possibility is the one vs. three kids thing. There are VERY few moments during my day when at least one kid isn't unhappy. Maybe when I just had one I had more moments of contentment. On second thought, parenting wasn't really for me even then.

    That's really a grouchy response to your beautiful post.

  5. But, Jessica, there are some really simple things that differ in our situations that ought to relieve you of the fear of being "a bad mom". The biggest difference in our lives is the very nature of our days.

    I do work at home, and so do have the ability to see and interact with my child some, but 95% or more of my "day" from 7am - 5pm is concerned with another world, one outside my house and not directly concerned with baby stuff...If I've had a bad day, it is generally because of work related frustrations. In this context, hanging out with my baby is change of venue, an opportunity to think about something else, and to be reminded of the "why" in my work.

    By contrast, from what I know of your life, when you have had a bad day it was likely BECAUSE of your kids. Your spouse is undoubtedly loving and supportive, but his job is out of the house, and you are currently tasked with managing the bulk of the day's kid-care along, right?

    I can promise you that if my baby-mamma wasn't downstairs dealing with all the end-of-day Dad/Baby snuggle might be very different.

    Stay strong, Jess. Having met your kids, I know you are a wonderful mom.

  6. Perhaps instead of a "bad mom" I should say I am a woman ill-suited to motherhood.

    And reading your response made me finally realize that I desperately, desperately need to get a job. Stat.