Friday, January 23, 2009
It's my son's birthday today. It's his first. My ninth, overseeing as "Dad." He's sick today, however. He was up most of the night vomiting what little he had in his tiny belly. Lucky he doesn't know that today is supposed to be any different from the day before or after.
I paused, this morning, from the routine of preparing myself for the day to observe him. I picked him up and sang a quiet happy birthday to him. He just pulled at my lips, the way he does when he's trying to get something out of my mouth.
And I left him there to go to work.
I hate that these kids grow up without me. I'm scared to death that Julian might take his first steps while I'm at work. He is my third to arrive here; having pushed through his baby-ness, and taking whole milk in his bottle. He's the third to grow out of the car seat and to finally have a need for shoes. All of these landmarks that brought me to tears with my oldest are happening to him every day while I sit at a desk and draw pictures.
We moved this summer into the neighborhood where Jayne grew up, just around the corner from her parents' house. I drive past that house every afternoon on my way home and some days I still flush at the sight of it. I can still sense the flutter of what stirred in me every time I entered that back door. And now I am family, and I walk in without knocking, and I borrow eggs and milk in dishes with Jayne's name written on them. Her name ends with mine, and it looks good in fading sharpie.
And when I come in my own home, my daughter wraps herself around my knees. She's somehow so tall. And Parley, who has been given preternaturally to that familiar masculine detachment since his birth, does not call out, but his eyes glow with anticipation that I might tackle and wrestle and punch his thinning torso. And Jayne is tired. She's tidying the kitchen or changing a diaper, but she seems glad to see me. I know she likes to have me around, but more often than not, I know she's glad to have an extra pair of hands in the house. Sometimes we exchange a brief kiss or we pause to embrace and sometimes I remember how my limbs used to ache with a need to be near her and I kept track of every affectionate transaction between us.
It occurs to me that of my son's (approximately) 12 daily waking hours, I am home for 2.5-3 of them, 5 days a week. And my hours alone with Jayne are even fewer. Am I the only one who feels there is a monstrous debt somewhere that is owed to me for this? One day someone will mail me a check for X amount of hours. Not money in exchange for hours-- I don't want the money. I want that time. I want those hours. And I have a mind to spend them all in one place.
We can't sit for ten minutes in church any more without someone mentioning the decline of the family in modern society. And the war is ongoing, with attacks from every side. It's easy to blame pornography and promiscuity and gay marriage and bla bla bla... but a friend of mine once opined that society's first attack on the family was in taking the father out of the home for 8 hours a day. Something about that made sense to me today as I thought of the relatively small role I played in the first year of my son's life.
But what a sweet creature he is. And I do relish every minute I have with him. Even the ugly ones, when he's mad at me or when I'm wiping something horrible from between his chubby thighs. At least he knows who I am. It's ok if he chooses Mom-- I do too. But at least he knows who I am.
Posted by J Wells at 12:54 AM