That’s no mystery. Babies just happen. They start out as babies and spend the rest of their lives changing into something else. More to the point, how are parents formed? I suppose they’re usually transformed from mushy-headed children, with varying degrees of suffering and success.
Chilkat’s over a year old, which means I’ve been a father for a year and KrisDi’s been a mother for a year. I’ve felt like a dad for about six months, I think. I fuzzily remember the disconnected disorientation and disbelief when we got home from the hospital.
The first real emotional connection I had with Chilkat as another human being (versus a crying micturating defecating lump of responsibility with lots of potential) was probably when she laughed the first time (June of 2011). I was overjoyed. I cried (but I did not micturate or defecate). Now she has such a distinct personality and she’s so much more independent and she’s genuinely interesting (intellectually in addition to emotionally and cutenessally) and she’s sleeping better, which means I’m sleeping better, which means I’m only constantly tired instead of constantly exhausted, which means I’m better able to deal with frustration. Most of the time — and “better” does not mean “good” in this instance. It means “less bad”. Although I do run on coffee. I go through about a half gallon of quite strong coffee a day, give or take. Usually less on the weekends.
I don’t feel like an utter failure as a father any more. I don’t feel like the best father in the world, but I feel like I have a handle on it for now. I know I can outlast her when she’s cranky but needs to sleep (or I can drop her in the crib and she’ll very likely go to sleep on her own now). I know she can’t make a dirty enough diaper that I can’t eventually get the mess satisfactorily cleaned. She’s home sick for the third day in a row, and while she’s upstairs napping, I’m downstairs worrying that she’s running a fever of 167 and is actually unconscious, not sleeping. When she’s walking, I’m worried that she’s going to fall and break all her bones, blind herself, and drive whatever is in her mouth through the back of her throat. When she’s at day care, I’m worried she’s starving and sitting neglected in a pool of her own excretions and being showered with infectious diseases. When she’s eating, I’m worried she’ll choke and go into anaphylactic shock and get struck by lightning. Et cetera.
Sometimes the little monster actually shows affection for me. On very rare occasions, she seems to prefer my company to KrisDi’s. Incidentally, KrisDi is an amazing mother, in addition to being an amazing wife and an amazing cook and an amazing woman and an amazing human being.
It’s strange to think about how different our life is now. Chilkat is in some way involved in every single thing we have done in the last year (more than that, counting pregnancy). We have taken 4,921 pictures and 244 videos of Chilkat since she was born (not even counting pictures we threw away) versus 3508 pictures of KrisDi and 2636 pictures of me altogether. I guess that’s approximate, because some grandparental pictures are included in that count. I talk about very little besides Chilkat and KrisDi. I clearly blog about almost nothing else.
I love her so much. I tell her, but she doesn’t understand yet. KrisDi made this nice video out of a small selection of photos of her.