Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Notes On Second Fatherhood (Day 6) 

Cassia Jade remains a wonderment. Up at all hours of the night, her dark eyes darting everywhere during feedings, constant diapering; our little C.J. cries little, and watches much. The back of her head fits in the palm of my hand; tiny reddish blond hairs against that new baby skin softer than peachfuzz, anything imaginable. Now that she's guzzling milk like a pro her very pores ooze that sweet, wondrous babybreath smell. It lingers on my clothes even now.

At seven, her sister Willow comes alive between us in the family bed. Come downstairs with me, Daddy; time to get up, Daddy; I love you, Daddy; want to watch the Muppets? This morning I took her to library storyhour and almost fell asleep to the soothing sounds of the substitute librarian reading picture books about flowers to a room full of mothers and children but otherwise empty of fathers. Like every first child must, she has been regressing in her own way as her family shifts to make room for the newcomer; in Willow's case, this means a full-blown case of the go-limp tantrums at the drop of a hat, and more cuddles than there used to be at our father-daughter bedtime.

The mother of my children -- oh, how I love that phrase -- remains a superwoman. She's off even the Motrin, and fully functional; you'd never know she was 6 days past major abdominal surgery if you hadn't been there, cutting the cord, on her bleeding belly. Running on naps and nurturing, she spends most of her days curled around the new one, milking, rocking, drowsing in the unseasonable heat wave. Folks stop by to find her cheerful and welcoming on her living room rocker, eager to chat, perhaps even off sitting under a shaded tree in the yard with the baby blanketed on her lap.

Me? I'm back at work as of today, afternoons only for the rest of the term. Somewhat delirious, having slept little since the birth. I spend my time at home following the girls around at a distance, entering rooms once they have moved on to clean and gather, tidy and wash. My herniated disk is acting up; my shoulder blades ache constantly.

I've held Cassia for a total of about an hour and a half since she was born.

Yeah, I'm happy. She's a miracle, indeed.

But she's not my miracle.

With eight weeks to go before we lose both job and home all-at-once, no job offers in sight, and the school hiring season winding down, it's hard to stay focused on the beautiful newness of things. Too much time on my hands, too many questions about this or that unrealistic opportunity at some totally unrealistic school -- too much time dwelling on the fact that time is running out, and the bank balance empty as can be -- and caring for the family becomes a quick and constant confrontation with the fact that, just two months from now, I will have no way to feed, clothe, or shelter this wondrous clan.

And so I wash the dishes switch over the laundry diaper the baby feed the toddler check in on the mother fold the clothes restock the diapers over and over and over again, keeping the mind busy, the hands on soft things, the family first.

I drown myself in my family.

So I do not drown, myself.

posted by boyhowdy | 1:39 PM |

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