Yesterday when I got home I was tired! The only place I wanted to be was home … with Keshi and Ciiru. They make me feel peaceful and safe. My wife makes me feel like a teenager because of how much I love her. And Ciiru …. Ciiru brings out all the childishness in me. She makes me feel like a baby again! I love watching her trying to put her hands together, rolling over, drooling, blubbering … the works! But yesterday they shocked me! When my wife opened the door for me I remained speechless for a while … there she was … my little angel in ‘matutas’ (English for that?! … corns I suppose) … For the 1st time in her 7 months of life she had her hair made! She looked like a new person to me. Like I was experiencing her for the very 1st time. She looked more like a girl than a baby now. My little angel is growing up fast and furious!! and it got me thinking.
I remembered Susan Engel saying “When they’re little they sit on your lap; when they’re big they sit on your heart” … Apparently having little kids is a breeze. As long as you hug them a lot and make good food, things seemed to be, for the most part, O.K. You can fix many problems, and distract them from others. Your home can be a haven from all that might be painful and difficult in the world beyond.
All of that changes when they are grown. They fall in love, break their hearts, apply for jobs, leave or lose the jobs, choose new homes, can’t pay the rent for those new homes and question their choice of profession. They forge their way, all just outside of your helping reach. Then, when bad things happen, they need you like crazy, but you discover that the kind of help you’ve spent years learning how to give is no longer helpful.
This poem by Brad Anderson came to my mind:
Can I Carry You?
I guess I can hold you one more time before you grow
And tell you that I love you so that you will always know
Please let me feed you again,One day you’ll feed yourself
And when you think back to this time, I hope it’s love I’ve shown
Can I help you put your coat on? Can I please mush your food?
Can I swing you around in my arms? Can I pick you out a treat?
One day you might just care for me,so let me care for you
I want to be a part of every little thing you do
Tonight could I please wash your hair? Can I put toys in the bath?
Can I help you count your small ten toes before I teach you math?
And one more time can I stand near to make sure you don’t fall?
Let’s take another space-ship ride Up to a distant planet
Before our Cardboard Rocket doesn’t fit us anymore
Please let me help you up the hill while you’re still too small to climb
And let me read you stories while you’re young and have the time
I know the day will come when you will do these things alone
Will you recall the shoulder rides and all the balls we’ve thrown?
I want you to grow stronger than your Dad could ever be
And when you find success there will be no soul more proud than me
So will you let me carry you? One day you’ll walk alone
I cannot bear to miss one day from now until you’ve grown!
Today Ciiru is 2 months! How time flies. People tell you that babies grow fast but when you are changing diapers at 3am and singing lullabies well into the morning that sounds far-fetched. You feel like your life is a never-ending nightmare (pun intended)! It’s now been 2 months of parenting and I can say am glad its starts so difficult because things get better every day. Have I learnt anything?
Lesson 1: If she’s asleep, leave her alone
The odd thing about newborn babies is that they do not move when they’re asleep and bundled. This caused me grave concern because, being the paranoid person that I am, I thought my baby had stopped breathing and had become victim to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).So after she fell asleep, my wife and I would bend over her crib and try to hear her breathing, or feel her heartbeat with the palm of my hand, or try to move her – which of course would wake her up, wailing, and we would have to put her back to sleep again. And then check again if she was still alive, waking her up, and so on. An endless cycle that drove us nearly insane.
Tip: Leave her alone! Check occasionally if you’re freaked out, but generally speaking, your baby will be fine. She’ll call for you when she needs you.
Lesson 2: Teamwork and tears
My wife and I developed a system of taking turns with the baby. When I couldn’t make her stop crying, I’d pass her over. When my wife couldn’t comfort her, she’d pass the baby back to me (we still do that). But there were times when neither of us could do a thing and our mutual frustration rendered us as helpless as the infant. The baby was crying, my wife was crying, I was crying, There will be nights when there is nothing else you can do but weather out the storm. Remember that your wife is not superhuman by default, and that your role did not end when you bought the baby cot. It’s important that you both remain allies and not point a finger at each other.
Tip: It’s not wrong to feel frustrated. It’s not wrong to cry. But no matter how miserable the three of you feel, it will pass. Well, until the next time. But you will survive.
At the end of the day, when I hold my little girl in my arms and see her look at me with her big eyes, everything makes sense and my troubles melt away. Do I think of myself as a great dad? Not yet, but I’m getting there. And with a little preparation, patience, sacrifice and a lot of love, so will you.