After just three months of fatherhood, I have one major question: When did I turn into a sissy-Mary? My father-in-law says there is something in a woman that snaps inside her when she has a child that helps her turn into a mother. I think there is also something that snapped in me, too.
Allow me to explain. I could count on one hand the times I have cried openly in the past decade. Some may call me stilted, soulless, cold, or Vulcan. But it wasn’t that I was devoid of emotional expression. I freely laughed. I had concern. I empathized. My emotions were aroused on plenty of occasions. But, with Jonah’s birth, I have cried more than a group of four-year-olds twenty minutes after nap time.
It’s amazing. I have become teary, misty, bleary, and blubbery because of one little guy I can pick up with one hand.
Here’s why: he began noticing I exist.
I remember the day he first performed. I had gotten up to feed him, and I had put him on the couch to prepare his feast. I was sitting beside him, shaking up the bottle when I looked at him, wishing he would recognize who I was. Then, it happened. He farted with a sound louder than most jet engines can muster, and he looked at me and then smiled. He smiled! Yes! After 2 ½ grueling months, he gives me feedback that does not include pee, poop, or screaming! Yes! I was so excited I almost performed a touchdown dance and spiked him right there. (I didn’t think Sunday or the Family Services Governmental Office would appreciate a stylish touchdown dance or a spiked baby, so I refrained).
I leaped from the couch, ran to where my lovely wife was sleeping, and shouted, “He smiled! He smiled!” In the usual way in which she responds to my early morning communications, she replied, “jafpoienvape;snork.” (Translation: What are you smoking? Don’t you know better than to wake me up?”).
I stepped back, knowing that the Sunday in her natural, early morning habitat has been known to kick or bite. I repeated my proclamation, more quietly this time. “He smiled. Honey, he smiled.” This time, her response was a little more coherent: “jaoienoenepain” (Translation: If you don’t step away from the bed, when I get through with you, I will have to figure out a way to get blood out of the carpet).
At this point, I wondered if she was going to share the joy of my discovery. But if I am one thing, it is tenacious.
Again, I stated with joy unabated. “he smiled. he smiled.” At this point, her eyes were opening to achieve the same circumlocutory patterns. This time, she spoke in the King’s English. “Huh?” Yes, at this point, even my excitement was beginning to wane. I truly thought that the fire of my passion should have woken her up sooner, but alas she didn’t cooperate. I repeated, for the last time. “He smiled, dangit.”
Needless to say, her response was not what I had hoped. I believe she said, and I quote, “Gas.” You can guess that I was less-than-whelmed. In fact, you could say that I was underwhelmed. She knew that Jonah had been smiling after passing gas, and I woke her up to tell her.
Disregarding my disappointment, Sunday continued. “Where is he?” It was then that I remembered that I left him on the couch. You know, when a little baby’s mother is sleeping, it’s best just to leave well enough alone. If you’re scoring at home, here is the result of my discovery and effort.
1. I woke up Sunday from a dead sleep. (Minus one for Matt)
2. I repeatedly find myself trying to tell her something about her son. (Push)
3. I tell her something that she already knows. (Minus one for Matt)
4. I leave her only son alone on the couch to do 1-3. (Minus four for Matt).
Jonah has developed his smiling skills during this month, reacting to his mother and father, the ladies in the nursery at church, strangers in the store and smiling faces on magazines. He doesn’t care. He smiles, coos, giggles and, yes, farts. When he gets especially riled up, his laugh forces him to wiggle. All arms and legs and torso akimbo. It’s great. For some reason, this has created in me a more blubber-friendly countenance.
A list of occasions when I have cried:
Jonah’s first laugh/smile
A moving song at church
Turning in my paper for my class
Getting the mail
Yes, he’s growing and so am I…emotionally.