I once witnessed a new dad, pick up his new baby-boy and stare at him in the most unusual way. He didn’t smile or coo at his baby. He didn’t try to put his forefinger in baby’s vice-clenched fist. He just stared at him, expressionless. It wasn’t a stolen moment between father and progeny. It was an unrestricted instant of unguarded fellowship, to which I was a welcome intruder, nothing was exclusive, it wasn’t a bonding moment; nothing was intimate.
Dad’s eyes were glazed over and distant as he held in his arms the proof of his fear; a fear which he had nurtured all these months. The fear of being cast away like an old antiquated doll. He had long been thrown out of their bed unto the sofa because his pregnant wife couldn’t quite get the right sleeping position. She had kicked and slapped during the night, lost in her pursuit for rest. She was sad when he moved to the sofa but quickly he was replaced with seven pillows.
She didn’t want to go out anymore; more because she felt too “fat” and unfit for social escapades than anything else. He had come to see that one thing did get her out the door though….. shopping for baby. She already did that all day from the sofa, anyway. She typed and scrolled on her phone incessantly. She “added to cart” and “proceeded to check out” at least five times a day, comfortable in her large Ankara caftan (which he planned to burn soon).
She had stopped making dinner and in fact all the other meals of the day. He had decided that wasn’t so bad, he wasn’t much of an eater anyway.
All that mattered now was the baby and the baby’s meal plan, the baby’s closet and how they needed to move into a bigger apartment because of the baby.
The baby. Hmmph! He remembered when he was her "baby”".
She seemed like all the world had to be stilled because of the incumbent. But not in a calming way, more like a muted frenzy. Almost like the day baby arrived, her life would start. All she had before that was just the stand-by life awaiting the arrival of baby. That’s what she called the incumbent; "Baby". And what did she call him, her husband, who she formerly called "Baby", "cupcake" and all variations of sweets: Daddy. She now called him "Daddy". She had read somewhere that calling him "Daddy" would set the tone for his new paternal duties and status. Also the baby would hear the word often and be aware from an early stage that the vibrations and phonetics in the word would make him certain of the security a father provided. Bull.
As daddy held baby in his arms, he seemed far away, stranded somewhere away from hope, floating somewhere so far below his expectations.
Then baby cooed. As he opened his heavy eyelids to reveal the purest form of inquisitiveness, i watched daddy's expression melt like wax. The straight line in between his lips angled slowly, then unable to hold back, his lips drew back to reveal a toothy grin. This wasn't so bad. How could anyone complain with all this wonder emanating from one little being! He would gladly give up the name "Baby" for "Daddy" any day.
A lot of men never admit it but they feel a bit left out when a baby is on the way or has just arrived. It's really not just because they feel ignored, it's more of a culmination of various changes that happen all at once and stand a chance of never returning to the way it was. For example, the way she wakes up and now reaches for baby first, who now sleeps in between them. The way she looks at baby. How sex is so far off the menu. How she no longer shops at Ann Summers but stands in line at Hamley’s. The lacy Victoria Secret’s have been shoved into the back closet and all she wears now are something that clearly has no secrets. It sounds a little selfish but who isn’t a little selfish with their partner. It's not like they aren't stoked becoming a dad but still they can’t help feeling like they have to scoot over from wife’s favorite chair. Plus, everyone tells them to be "Man about it". Being a man also requires getting some attention and affection too, right?
|Get over it and be like this guy! I'm kidding. But seriously though, this guy.|