I remember the exact moment nearly six years ago when my wife informed me that she was pregnant with our first child. It was decidedly not like those moments you see in a movie.
I felt like I was hit by a car in slow motion.
Don’t get me wrong, I love kids and very much wanted kids, but we had just had the “let’s wait one more year” conversation a few days earlier. I was excited yet I felt like the weight of the world had hit me like an Acme anvil crushing Wile E. Coyote.
My mouth ran dry, and I wondered what type of father I would be.
Most fathers I know feel that bond with their child from the moment they are born. Some even feel it while their child is in utero. Not me. However, with no frame of reference, I really didn’t know that at first.
When our daughter was born, I performed all of the new fatherly duties. Diapers, feeding, playing. I made every effort to be involved and available to my daughter and my wife. Yet, through all of this, I felt something was missing between me and my daughter. I felt I was on the outside looking in at her.
I never shared this with my wife, or anyone for that matter. I would make me look like a bad father, a fraud.
One day when my daughter was around 3 months old, I decided to assemble her ExerSaucer. Admittedly, such handy-type work is not my thing, but it felt like a “fatherly” thing to do. Once I got it assembled, my excitement blurred my judgment. I placed her in the ExerSaucer while I finishing on strapping its Velcro play pieces.
The loudest, most memorable wail of pain that came from my daughter next changed everything.
I had caught my daughter’s finger between the Velcro toy and the tray of the ExerSaucer while laying underneath pulling the Velcro strap as tight as I can. Her cry immediately threw me into rescue and recovery mode.
I sat with her, quietly comforting her, until her tears went away. While I sat traumatized, she resumed her regularly scheduled giggling, drooling, and goo-goo ga-gaing. I, too, felt better. Together, we helped each other through the pain.
Clarity came a few hours later after my wife fully convinced me her finger would not be permanently damaged. I realized that being her sole source of comfort in her time of need was not only something I was more than capable of doing, but was something she was more than capable of accepting. We had unknowingly bonded through crisis. The need to relieve her pain cut all the chains holding my love and acceptance, of her and my ability to love her, back. It was a moment of pure joy that I have never looked back from.
However, please, do not try this at home on your own child. Love will break through, no matter how much Velcro tries to hold it back.