How can I capture the softness of his skin? The smell of him sleeping? The gentleness of his searching touch in slumber. His cascading embrace as he tumbles towards me in open trusting adoration. The innate sense of justice in sharing his affection between our bodies and his equal indignation with his sister’s slights. His raucous elation when he sounds like a gleeful imp and his deafening disapproval when he does his version of Animal from the Muppets.
The mechanics of our creation means little in comparison to the visual perception of another being created partly from me existing, growing, learning, exploring, becoming in front of my eyes every day. It still brings forth the wonderment of it all from me, in the quiet moments, when I study him with intense feelings of awe and a crushing terror of responsibility and simply think, “How?”. How did this person come from me? How is it possible that these beautiful creatures came from us doing something as awkward and messy as having sex?
There’s glimpses of so many people in their personalities and mannerisms that I rarely see myself in them. When it’s pointed out to me I’m always surprised, outwardly thankful for the compliment, and internally in disbelief. Children as clever, mischievous, and imaginative as ours take after their father (or relatives that want nothing to do with me) but certainly not me. They unfortunately take after me in their insomnia, an affinity for peanut butter and pork (even together), and an aversion to raw fruit and vegetables. (Salad is great if it has lots of meat, nuts, cheese, or oils on it so you don’t notice the squeaky, leathery, watery texture of the – well, salad.)
I fear my children taking after me and try my best to hide my bad habits and thoughts as much as I can without impersonating a Stepford wife. They have plenty of time to get to know me and I figure I’ll meter out my crazy dependent on the age appropriateness of the neurosi. For instance, my logical fear of germs, I have become what the comedian Tom Papa refers to as the “did you wash your hands?-lady”. I even ask Jamie, in public (but that’s for another time…).
There’s at least one moment, every day, where I want to run away. Yet there’s also the moments where I can’t believe how fortunate I am to be in their lives but I bristle when anyone states how “lucky” we are. It’s not due to chance that our kids are so kind and well behaved. It’s hard work. The most challenging, frustrating, enlightening, boring, playful, messy, thankless, unappreciated, life altering, physically and emotionally taxing endeavor I’ve taken on in my life. There’s no finish line, no performance review until it’s too late, no backup for sick days, and you’re never off the clock. I’m sure I’ll look back at the hard times with fondness but, for now, I’m waste deep in the trenches and trying to make the best of it, in the sleepy moments, when they’re peaceful next to me in bed. When it’s quiet.
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