Dear Jackson,

June 28, 2010

I’m your father and you’re my son

Filed under: Birth to 1 year-old — Tags: , — aJOHNymous @ 4:25 pm

A week ago I celebrated my first Father’s Day. It came and went—to me at least—with very little fanfare. I kept expecting to have this “Oh my God, I’m a Dad!” epiphany, but as much as I tried to will it into existence, it never came. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a Dad, it’s just that even though it’s been almost a year, it sometimes still doesn’t feel real. There are times when I still can’t believe that I’m your Dad and you are my son. I still don’t feel totally comfortable making executive decisions about you. I am constantly deferring to your Mom or your Grandparents for a lot of things because I’m simply clueless.

I’ve never really been around kids before, let alone a baby. This is all still a mystery to me. I’m trying to do my best, but sometimes I feel like it’s not enough. I just feel so uncomfortable and awkward sometimes. It’s been almost a year now and I still feel little pangs of fear when I am left alone with you. Save for a pet, I’ve never really had to take care of anyone before. As much as I want it to, parenting doesn’t really seem to come very naturally for me. I suspect once you are able to communicate and understand things a little better that it’ll get easier for me, but right now, it’s really difficult.

I can’t wait until we can go out and grab a hot dog and a milkshake together like my Dad used to do with me.
I can’t wait until we can play catch with a football.
I can’t wait until we can stay up late watching Batman cartoons.
I can’t wait until we can act like idiots together and your Mom has to yell at both of us.
I can’t wait until I can watch Ghostbusters and Star Wars with you for the first time.

I’m really trying my best to not look past where we are now, though. You’ll only ever be a baby once so I’m doing my best to drink this all in and savor it for as long as possible. Once you’re walking and talking, it’s a whole ne ballgame. You’ll have moved on to a new stage in your life and we’ll more than likely have more fun, but it will be bittersweet.

I’ll only be able to hold you in one arm for so long.

I think that’s when it will really hit me: the day that I can no longer see the baby in you.

***

We got to spend the whole day together yesterday—just you and me. Your Mom went down to Illinois and your Grandparents took the dog, so we had the house all to ourselves. I think this was actually the first time that I’ve ever really been alone with you for an entire day. You can probably guess that I was pretty nervous about the whole thing. I didn’t want to have to call anyone if you got to be too much for me. I’m stubborn like that. I was also worried that you might somehow hurt yourself the moment I took my eyes off of you. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. I think I did a pretty good job.

Right before your Mom left, we put you down for a nap and I prayed that you’d sleep for a decent amount of time. While you were asleep, I made you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch and got some milk ready for you. I figured it would be easier to prepare everything ahead of time rather than have to do it while you were crawling around and getting into stuff.

You woke up at about 11 or so and I could hear you in your crib making noises and kicking things (or whatever it is that you do in there). I’d say you pretty much entertained yourself for about 15 minutes before you started to whine so I went at got you at about 11:15. You were just standing there in your crib with your little blanket hanging out of your mouth. I picked you up and gave you some milk and then we just hung for a while until lunch.

At about 12:15 I cut up your sandwich into little chunks and watched you stuff your face until you looked like a chipmunk. Every once in a while you allowed yourself a drink of milk from the sippy cup, but you seemed more interested in the PB&J chunks than anything. You got cheerios for dessert. Half of them made it into your mouth, the other half were purposely dropped onto the floor. You’d just stare at me, pick up a cheerio, reach over the edge of the highchair, and drop it. I’m guessing that you thought you were feeding the dog, but for all I know you were just doing it for shits and giggles.

After lunch, I cleaned you up and let you roam about the living room as I tried to keep you entertained. I had a few movies running on TV in the background and you and I just hung out. You’d play with your toys for a while, then you’d crawl into the dining room, then I’d get up and carry you back into the living room. This was the cycle that we repeated for about 20 iterations until it was time to put you back for your afternoon nap at about 2:30.

I pretty much figured you were getting tired when you got sick of crawling around and started to get whiny and cry. I picked you up and held you for a while as you just watched the fan spin in circles over our heads. I think I was even swaying back and forth to keep you happy.

That was one of those moments where I wish I could have stepped outside of myself and just been an observer for a little while. Just to be able to watch as I held you and we both seemed peaceful and happy would have been an awesome thing to see: a quiet portrait of a father and a son. These are also the moments when I feel most like a parent. To be able to pick up a crying child and have him settle down in your arms is a powerful and amazing feeling.

Eventually, I think you just got really sleepy and wanted to go to bed because you started whining again. I gave you some more milk and took you into your room to read a story. I tried to read “Froggy’s Day with Dad” but I could only get about 3/4 finished before you really started breaking down. After a final little bit of milk, I gave you your little blanket and put you in the crib to take a nap.

I went back into the living room and turned on the baby monitor. I expected around 5-10 minutes of crying—which is the norm—but I think you cried for a goof 30 minutes before finally falling asleep. I even had to go in one point to pick you up and console for a little bit. I think that might have helped. Truthfully I think you were just missing your Mom. I can understand that. You spend way more time with her than with me.

Unfortunately, you only slept for about 30 minutes so when you woke up, you were still pretty tired. I tried letting you crawl around the floor and playing with but after about an hour of that, both of us were pretty tired and one of us was crying. I tried holding you and rocking back and forth but it wasn’t enough. I decided that you need a little more stimulation than just inside of the house so I decided to take you for walk.

I strapped you into your stroller and off we went. I just took you on a few paths through the neighborhood. This seemed to really calm you down because you were just making little noises and kicking back to relax. We talked a little bit about stuff that I can’t remember right now, but I did thank you for being in a pretty good mood for the vast majority of the day. Walking with you was another moment that lifted my spirit. It was good father and son bonding time, I suppose.

45 minutes later, we got home and your Mom and Dyson were there waiting for us.

All in all, it was a pretty nice day.

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