I suppose it’s a sign of precisely how new a new father I am, but it’s absolutely thrilling to have Ava here, in the world. I know it’s a cliche even bigger than cops at donut shops, but seriously – every day brings a new miracle. You want to see real wonder? Watch an infant make a noise like a dolphin, realize she made it, then repeat it over and over. It kills me. I used to think the lighter I was, the farther I could travel. I think of that time alone – riding motorbikes, SCUBA-diving with sharks, jumping from airplanes, partying with rock stars, etc. Well okay…that stuff was a blast. But it doesn’t compare to hanging with my little girl. I look at all that other stuff and all I can think is I was just postponing my truest happiness.
Ava’s presence is so wonderfully all-consuming I have to remind myself that one year ago, both Baby Mama and myself were crippled by self doubt. I can only speak for myself, but I had profound misgivings about my ability to be a father, and a provider. More than that, I questioned our ability to parent well together.
Today, those fears seem quaint. Most times I tell people I should’ve done this sooner, but I probably wasn’t ready until now. Really though, that’s bullshit – left to my own devices, I might’ve denied myself this pleasure indefinitely. Part of me had to get pushed, and it was Baby Mama doing the pushing.
Which is not to say I was forced. Rather, I was reminded by Baby Mama at crucial moments to set aside the burden of my responsibility (which I felt rather deeply – a prairie boy’s son can feel little else) and embrace the singular joy that comes from bringing a new life into the world.
Therein lies Baby Mama’s gift to me. I’ll worry that we don’t have a contingency plan for – well, for everything – nannies, teething, walking, solid food, solid poos, talking, discipline, daycare, school, extracurricular activities, dating, etc, etc. Baby Mama is there to remind me stuff has a funny way of working itself out. You take action when it’s required, try not get anxious or over-think anything, and spend the rest of the time setting an example by the way you lead your life. In this way, Baby Mama is proving to be highly adaptable, and not inflexible in her thinking – a courtesy she extends not only to our child but to me as well.
Seeing her grow into her role as both mother and partner fills me with as much awe as watching our child. Challenges create character, and a vein has opened up within her, something deep and abiding. Let’s call it grace. That grace makes her not only a wonderful mother, but a wonderful person to be around. I’m reminded of this John Cusack monologue in the movie High Fidelity (a never-ending source of manly relationship wisdom), where he talks about what it was like with his girlfriend: “She didn’t make me miserable, or anxious, or ill at ease. You know, it sounds boring. But it wasn’t.”
I look at my little girl and her mom, and I know I’m exactly where I want to be. I’d try to say it with long-stem roses, but there’s not enough in the world for that.