I’m intuitive. At times so intuitive it scares me. I question and doubt and demand reasons for what I already know.
I watched him. Not in the creepy stalker sort of way. I just paid attention and noted how he talked with people and how he listened and what made him laugh. And his expression when he didn't know I was staring at him. He was raking up the points.
Then I saw him with children. We were at a gathering at a friend’s house. She had two young daughters. He saw them peeking at us. He introduced himself and shook their hands. As adults talked, the girls played close by. He joined in the conversation but gave silent attention to the girls. They edged closer and were soon playing around his feet. Before long he joined them on the floor. They built towers of blocks and knocked them down. He read stories and found accents for every character. He taught them silly songs about meatballs and a bunny named Foo Foo. He was a cool dude version of Mr. Rodgers.
I know it sounds corny to say, but this was the moment I no longer doubted my heart.
In time what I knew from the beginning came true. We got married and three years later brought our son, Nathan, home. I was under-qualified for this mother job. I had two hours experience babysitting a six month old. George assured me there was nothing to worry about. And then he did it all... diapered, bathed, dressed, clipped those ridiculously cute miniature fingernails and sang to him. He brought him to me to nurse, hovered close by and took him back to burp as soon as he came up for air. All I did those first seven days was be a cow. It was quite lovely.
And then the week was up. George had to go back to work the next day. I had a lot to learn in twenty-four hours.
We started with the non-threatening life activities. Diapers were fine. There was that little surprise that only boys can do, but I dodged it. I dressed him without breaking limbs that snapped back to fetal position as soon as you let go. It took awhile to locate the burp spot. And calculate the force needed. (I still have this problem)
My husband felt that was enough for the first day. I disagreed. I wanted to give Nathan a bath.
George explained how to find the right water temperature. He explained this three times and demonstrated. Then threw out the water and had me do it. He is an annoyingly thorough teacher.
I said I was ready. Mama hormones surged and I felt powerful and fearless as I dipped my naked baby into the perfectly warmed water.
It is surprising how slippery wet babies are. Nathan was underwater for less than a second. He sputtered and coughed and cried. I did too.
We calmed down and I finished his bath in 5 seconds. That's all a baby needs when the water is cold.
The first day on my own I decided to cut his nails. There were tiny scratches on Nathan's face. Nine out of ten were trimmed blood-free. The nail and top layer of skin grew back on his little finger, so no permanent damage.
Those mishaps were never repeated. Baths and nail trimming are not emergencies. They waited until Daddy came home.
With that as the beginning...I'll let you imagine the years that followed.
I think I picked a good one.
And now he gets to do it all over again with a new crop.
(Maybe it’s okay to be corny on Father’s Day.)
yes...repost again because I am haven't had time to write something new and it is all still true.
Originally published on Open Salon...Father's Day 20012