Father's Day

Last night my husband did the most amazing thing. He walked into the banshee's lair, placed his hand on her writhing back, and lulled her to sleep with his presence. The incredible part isn't that she calmed down so easily; it's that he reached out. The gesture was a year in the making. His hands-on approach toward swapping out car engines or turbo-charging lawnmowers never extended to the day-to-day maintenance of a baby. What he wanted from life was simple: cars, trucks, boats, cable television and pie. He thought a wife to hand him the torque wrench and laugh uproariously at his jokes would be quite nice, too. At 27, he was sure he had a few more good years of buying toys and watching Modern Marvels on the History Channel before Father's Day would be anything but a celebration of his own dad's role in his upbringing. At 28, he realized he was wrong. Much petulance ensued.

When I told him I was pregnant and he was unenthused, I pushed it to the back of my mind with the ever hopeful "he'll get excited when I start to show and it becomes more real to him." When I started to show, I figured he'd come around when he felt her kick from within. When her kick made him jerk his hand back with an incredulous "it's like a God damned alien in there," I was sure that her birth would be the moment of true acceptance. Unfortunately, I was unconscious for that and cannot make an identification either way. All I know is that I came to and there was nothing to indicate that the bond I was anticipating had been forged. Until yesterday. Until Father's Day.

My husband was adamant that he didn't want any gifts. So I didn't get him any. But we had what turned out to be a nice visit to his parents' house and, on the drive down, I laughed a lot. He likes when I do that and I guess, yesterday, it was as good for him as it was for me. At his parents' home, we conversed and ate and ogled the happy baby. Our dog drank too much water and peed on their carpet. The ride home was companionably silent.

After I nursed Tolby and put her in her crib, she was too exhausted to sleep. The air was thick with humidity and with dust from the inaugural use of our big box fan. I laid on top of the sheets in my underwear while she cried it out. I heard my husband at the top of the stairs and saw the hall go black. I thought the creaking floorboards would lead him to our bedroom, but the doorway remained empty. Suddenly there was only the white hot noise of the fan. Several minutes later he padded into bed. He set the alarm for 7:30 a.m.

"How'd you get her to do that?" I asked the ceiling as he laid on his back beside me.

"I just put my hand on her back till she fell asleep."

"Oh." A breeze that wasn't light or heavy rustled through the curtains. I thought, this is why I love the beginning of summer. Things you have been waiting for so long finally start to happen.


Anonymous Motherhood Uncensored said...

What is it with them? My huz does the same damn thing and it drives me bananas... Maybe it's because I have to do a freaking song and dance number for 2 hours just to get her to a light slumber...

7:38 PM  
Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

A really nice post... enjoyed it!

8:37 PM  
Blogger lynsalyns said...

When Em was a newborn my husband was less than the parent I imagined in my head. He seemed to put everything else ahead of us. I remember one incident when he simultaneously told me he didn't have enough time with her and that he was going to happy hour after work.

He often was hurt that Em favored me. I simply spent more time with her.

One week he was off work and I stayed out of the picture as much as I could and they finally bonded.

I was so grateful to see him be the parent I knew he was in his heart of hearts.

I felt this post in my bones. As always, it is as if you are in my head and heart. Then you articulate these feelings so beautifully.

You have a tremendous gift, Binky. Don't waste it, like I did. Write and write and don't stop. Write that book. Soon.

11:32 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

That's a huge turning point. Congrats.

Nate never took much interest in my pregnancy either. Totally in denial. Although the few times I grabbed him and insisted he feel the kicks, she always stopped. He called it his "calming influence." Maybe there was something to it.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

Sigh. This is why I keep coming back.

All in our own time.

12:34 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

Perfect, real, true. Thanks.

8:56 AM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

That's so poignant. I knew my husband would be a good dad, and he has been, but I somehow sensed sometimes it was a for show. A kind of "look at me I'm dancing with my infant daughter in a public place," sort of thing that can abruptly end "when she starts to cry then I hand her over to my wife."

Great post.

10:23 AM  
Blogger T. said...

Such a nice post, Binky.

Good for all of you...

12:04 PM  
Anonymous mamatulip said...

What a great post. It made me feel good reading it.

12:50 PM  
Blogger lildb said...

it's phrases such as, "a breeze that wasn't light or heavy [...]" that pull me here like I've got one of those super-long, vaudevillian canes around my neck.


12:58 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

I don't think it had anything to do with the fact that I'm experiencing the same hot spell...

But I felt like I was in the room with you. Your way with words amazes me. I'm thrilled for you that your husband is becoming the father you want him to become.

9:39 PM  
Blogger Jene said...

I swear to God, I just read this in Time magazine.

“Does Fatherhood Make You Happy”

“Studies reveal that most married couples start out happy and then become progressively less satisfied over the course of their lives, becoming especially disconsolate when their children are in diapers and in adolescence, and returning to their initial levels of happiness only after their children have had the decency to grow up and go away… Psychologists have measured how people fell as they go about their daily activities, and have found that people are less happy when they are interacting with their children then when they are eating, exercising, shopping or watching television… Economists have modeled the impact of many variables on people’s overall happiness and have consistently found that children have…a small negative impact.”

9:42 AM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

Such a beautiful post. Tears in my eyes here.

5:56 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

And you said you didn't give him a gift! beautifuly said.

4:39 PM  
Blogger Kell said...

How lovely. What a sweet post. :)

10:46 PM  

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