Johnathan, my baby boy (it’s still weird to write the word son), has recently leveled up. His latest skill is “Toe grabbing.” As in his own. He now spends literally hours out of the day with his fingers firmly gripping as many of his own toes as possible and drawing them upward towards his very wet mouth. His legs protest after a certain distance and pull back. The end result, of course, is a little Johnathan ball that rolls around the floor grunting and spraying drool till it gets hungry. (at which point it becomes a spasming screaming ball that also sprays drool.)
It’s been 3 months since he showed up at our house. For me it’s been a great experience. I remember getting a letter from Gandhi back when his baby was little and him talking about how great parenthood is – the only downside being that while chatting online and holding the baby at the same time she would sometimes flail at the keyboard, creating an electronic spray of drool in the chat window. He then would repeatedly write “Sorry, baby.” and then a few minutes later explain to confused people why he kept calling them baby.
It’s a good story, and one worth repeating.
My wife has a harder time with parenthood than me since she has her entire life and schedule dictated to her by a three month old whereas I can go to work and have my life and schedule dictated to me by a 35 year old. I don’t think that if Johnathan paid cash money it would be easier, but I wish he would try.
I felt it was a good time to finally put down how it’s been. It’s been good. You never realize how dramatically your freedom is curtailed by a child till you have one – at least, I didn’t. Everybody said “Having kids is hard.” but never said why. I think it’s because they’d forgotten about the changeover when the first one comes. Life is all about what the baby wants. If you’re on the computer and he’s hungry it’s dinner time. If you want to watch a movie and he wants to be held and played with you are going to be holding a baby. This is the only downside of parenthood so far. And I suspect that this is the biggest reason so many people hesitate to have children – who wants to give up freedom in any degree for any reason, after all?
But I figure the payoff is great.
The only force that bends the human will stronger than the desire for freedom is love. Most of the time it comes in the form of desire for. Especially to you younger folk. We seek approval and affirmation. We want to feel loved – even to the point of sacrificing what we once thought of as impossible to surrender. We hope for that something that will fill up the empty spots in the core of our beings and solve the ache that follows us on night-time walks. (It’s interesting to note that we are not alone in our loneliness.) We have a never ending desire for love.
What I have enjoyed most about parenthood is the chance to be filled so completely with that feeling towards another person. It’s the first relationship I’ve felt where there’s none of that emotional hunger for reciprocal feelings. I don’t care if he doesn’t even know who I am – I can still pour out my whole heart to the tiny person who needs my help. The second amazing part is that in the process of giving love and expecting nothing back it somehow fulfils me in a way that no other relationship ever has. I don’t mean to say that my relationship with my wife is somehow unfulfilling, because it is completely satisfying, but that my relationship with my child is so simple and pure – not a complex adult relationship. They talk about something called “pure joy” and this would be something approaching that.
Johnathan grows quickly, already much bigger than his second cousin born 2 weeks before him. His kickboxing lessons aren’t really going well, but he’s learning to support his own weight on his legs pretty well. He’s also a champion spit-bubble blower. Still hasn’t really learned to roll over or crawl, but you can see the commitment in his eyes.
It’s been good so far. I’m excited for all that is to come.