There’s no two ways about it. There are days when I wish I had Allison’s day to day and she wishes she had mine.
On paper, the formula seems simple. I’m a very social person that has had the audience for my wit shrunk down to one single baby. And that’s only when he’s paying attention to me. She is a mother that is missing quality time with the human that grew inside of her for 9 months. Sacrifices on both sides, as she gives up time with Jack and I give up furthering the pursuit of less tangible career goals. We both knew what this was going to be, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
I know that it kills her even when I just mention that Jack seems to have gotten over his fear of the huge sliding mirror closet doors. Just as I cannot help but feel a slight tinge when I’ve spent half the day playing/cleaning/feeding/teaching Jack and yet the smile on his face when Al walks through the door makes the ones I’ve gotten seem half-assed. This is moot though. The fact that I can’t stay up until 4am drawing anymore or that I cannot remember the last time I heard the start up noise my Playstation 3 makes is all meaningless. That I forget what the inside of a bar smells like or that my friends without kids are starting to wonder if I’m still alive…none of that matters. And here’s why. Here is why: because there is no doubt in my mind that I got the better end of the deal.
I truly cannot imagine being Allison right now and getting up in the morning, knowing that my time with Jack is finite. Having to concentrate at work, with nothing but a 5×7 photo of your son staring back at you. I know I sound like a broken record, but these are just some of the many reasons I admire the hell out of my wife.
Whereas me, I get it all. I get to see that open-mouth smile when I place him on the couch and he just knows that “Me and Daddy are gonna play” now. I get to see all the new ways I can make him laugh and I’m the first person that he tests out his new faces on. I love it. I wouldn’t, I couldn’t, trade it for the world. I get to be an active part in the connection that I am forging with my son in a way few dads can. Jack will always be connected to Allison, it’s the bond that biology demands. But my connection is learned by him. I’m teaching him who I am. He is understanding that this is my dad. He will protect me. He will make sure I am not sad or lonely and, no matter what happens, he will always love me. He’s already starting to get it.
For a little over a month, I’ve been doing what I call my “war cry” with Jack (overly liberal friends who take issue with the use of “war cry”…grow up). It’s just my way of letting him know that there are some things you have to fight for in the world. After every big step, we do our war cry together. When he was first able to grab my thumbs, pull himself up onto his feet, he scrunched his face and had the widest open mouth smile I’d ever seen. This continued with each big milestone of movement. When he could sit up: war cry. When he could first push his belly off the floor: war cry. Hell, when he’s 18 and he gets into the college of his choice I’d be the proudest father in the world if he decided to fill his lungs with air and let out a war cry for all the world to hear. A shout as though he is running into battle. Which he is….he’s growing up and he’s letting the world know it. He’s saying: I’m here! I matter! I will do what I need to do to survive and no matter what this world does to me I am gonna stand back up!
I know, a lot for a 6 month old…but he is the son of a genius. A genius and me.