I’ve been trying to write about the tribulations of being the ‘at home’ parent. I tried to do it funny. I tried to do it sarcastic. I tried to do it real. Real won out. Observe.
To accept humility into one’s life is cathartic. There are incremental levels one faces when it comes to accepting humility and the final one, I truly hope, brings release and comfort. I can smell it. Or at least I hope I can. 1
The ‘fuck’ in the ‘what the fuck am I talking about’ is the physical toll of all this unilateral fatherhood. The lack of sleep. The lack of personal space. The highest of highs compounded like a white dwarf star by the lowest of lows. A shimmeringly hot glowing ball of perpetual responsibility that’s already been done a million times and will be done a million times over again. Parenthood. Nurturing. Dependency. Awesomeness.
I would now like to openly apologize to my wife.
Elizabeth, I am truly sorry. I had no idea. None. I guessed. I read the books. I have been responsible for many lives in a wilderness setting. But nothing, nothing I have ever experienced, is comparable to this.
I’ve spent most of my life being fairly self absorbed. It has cost me friends and relationships. I’m learning this now. Being at home, with an infant, for only a week, well…I can only quote Jean Paul Sartre in hopes of encapsulating this. “Dudes , sérieusement, vous ne avez aucune idée. Aucun. Je veux dire, comment pourriez-vous ? Nous devons embrasser plus.”
I can’t change the fact that I had no idea, I can only acknowledge it. I have many faults of character, but I consider myself a person of dignity and fairness. With that said, I was ignorant and in my ignorance lies an ignorance of female biology. It seems my knowledge only touches the surface.
The late nights, the lack of self, the utter love that is given and demanded by our bald overlord…I now have a basic understanding of it all. But, I did not have the nine months of intrinsic understanding of how life begins and its physiological draw it has on your body. I could only watch and do my best to support. This support, in retrospect, was (to be kind to myself) lacking in all angles. I had no idea. I still don’t, but I have a mildly better understanding.
I could say that now I’m in your shoes that I understand. But that would make me look stupid. Well, that and my face (personal zing).
No hormones on my part. No ‘new’ body. No symbiotic relationship with the little human. None of this. I don’t lactate when he cries. I don’t bottom out when it comes to terrible things that could happen to him. A picture of him does not make my boobs leak life juice. I cannot relate on this level. Yet, when I break, you show me kindness. And love. I am a very lucky man. Lucky human. Lucky living organism.
I can only offer you two things. One: I love the living shit out of our child. He teaches me as much as I will hopefully some day teach him. His smiles make my soul level up. When he looks at me, I see the future of our planet and the history of our species. I feel it in my essence. I know this and it it is true.
The second is what you have been giving me a metric fuck-ton of lately. Understanding.
I have been getting it from friends lately. Those who have knowledge of the circumstance. Intimate knowledge. Like war buddied chatting about war things. Except nobody’s ass gets blown off by a grenade. Well, not literally anyway.
I cannot promise I will always act sane. I cannot promise I will always act rational. I cannot promise that I will consistently be that handsome bastard you married.2 But, I will always be his dad. And I will love him. And I will get better at doing this thing. This thing that had never been perfected, but has been done billions of times.
Namaste. A lot. I think.
1 That smell is baby poop or breast milk. Frankly they both smell the same to me right now.
2 I thought you didn’t know anything about your biological mom and dad.