Zen & the Art of Baby Maintenance
So I often find it hard to remember, in the heat of baby fussiness, that all of this is a Good Thing™ and that someday, I might even miss how dependent my little girl is on me right now.
“Hey Dad, can we wrap this up? I have a date in 20…“
The knowledge of how lucky I am to have a healthy and beautiful child somehow gets muffled by the nightly wails of Unhappy Hour, and I occasionally dare to become frustrated with the experience of being a parent.
But then, like quicksilver, frustration disappears and in its wake guilt arrives. And I feel ashamed of not cherishing these moments with her. Ashamed for daring to groan when it’s time for a diaper change. Or sighing before trudging up the stairs when it’s time for her bath. Or when I have to pause a game to swaddle her before she goes to bed. These things, sometimes, seem like chores.
Because when she’s 17, and wants nothing to do with her idiot father, what I would give to be able to take care of my little girl like this? To see all unhappiness vanish from her face and a smile dawn, simply because I walked over and looked at her. To have her think that sticking my tongue out and making noises at her is the greatest thing that’s ever happened in her entire life. To be able to salve any hurts by simply lifting her up onto my shoulder and holding her little head next to mine.
Someday it will take more than funny noises to inspire this kind of joy.
Yes, it’s often exhausting that she needs her mother and (to a lesser extent), me for everything. But I wonder…how much will it hurt when she doesn’t?
I hear the warnings of so many other parents about how quickly all this goes by. I really do hear them. And I believe you. But I simply can’t keep the remembrance of how fleeting it is in the forefront of my mind all the time. And I doubt I’m alone there. I’m sure I’m not the first father to wonder if he’s paying sufficient attention to his child’s growth. She’s grown so much over these past 11 weeks that I wonder how much I’ve missed already…
So I try, even when headaches and exhaustion and stress sap the thrill of being a dad, to be present and engaged in as many of these daily moments with her as I can.
I’ll wish I had.
And this little time that I did have with her won’t have been nearly enough.
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