Sunday, March 9, 2014
A Desperate Love
Of all of the countless times I imagined you, I never imagined you... as a baby. I've always wanted to have children, but I was never fond of the idea of having a baby, per se. I always saw babies as sort of larval humans. Human pupae. All of the things I liked about older children--- their curiosity, their love of play, their energy--- was more or less absent from babies. The way I saw it, babies just laid there while you labored over them. Yes, I saw mothers coo and cuddle them in a way that made the whole thing appear like it was wonderful. I saw that look in their eyes, that impulse to reach out and touch their children when they smiled. But I never felt any of those feelings myself. Partly, it might have been because I'm just a man and those feelings don't come as naturally. But another part was because I tend to resent the fact that once children have graduated from babyhood and the "cuteness factor" wears off, so many people just don't care about them as much anymore. I always thought that was sad.
So in the end, I concluded that having kids would basically be like having a good dinner: you have to spend some time cooking it before you can eat it... though now that I think about it, perhaps that's a bad analogy. Anyway, I was expecting the real joys of fatherhood to spring up as soon as you could say "Dada" and know what it meant.
But still, I had to honestly ask myself whether my feelings would change when my baby was here and in my hands. Would some parental instinct suddenly flip on in my head? The thought of it was a little bizarre. To see if it was there, I frequently tried to imagine you being born, fat and safe, so that I might kindle in myself that emotion. To see a glimmer of it, first hand. And to tell you the truth, I could feel it there, faintly. It was a vague, warm kind of love. Calm. Soft. Pastel-colored. I liked that kind of emotion. It seemed manageable.
But things happened very, very differently. You are here, but not fat, nor safe, nor in my hands. However, as I look at you today, there is an unmistakable love there, just nothing like I thought it would be. It's jagged. Raw. Desperate. Because looking at you and loving you also means facing fear. Its as though my fear has amplified my love for you, the way a deep valley next to a tall mountain makes the peak look that much higher.
I never thought I could have felt this way, and never would have wished it, but this is my reality and now I don't know how I could live without it.