Monday, July 06, 2009
I have been (predictably) quiet on this space because, of course, I've been deep in the baby haze of renewed fatherhood, punctuated by the sheer energy jolt that is parenting 5-year-olds in the summer.
The baby books call this period of fatherhood "engrossment," in which the male parent (or presumably, potentially any parent who did not physically give birth) bonds intensely with the child through close physical contact, logistical concern, and other domestic involvement with the new child's arrival. I am certainly experiencing that process, as this picture surely illustrates.
But we've got two other children, too, and I've found, perhaps predictably as well, that I've had opportunities to renew my bond with them as well. Much of their childhood has been defined by a preference (not exclusive, but marked) for their mother, even though we split a lot of the parenting duties and privileges. This has been a source of constant, if not devastating, hurt, as I sit quietly as the twins fight over who gets to sit behind mommy in the car, or next to her at a restaurant, as my nurturing of a skinned knee or bumped head is usually elicits cries for Mommy's apparently superior nurturing.
This preference is likely to be even more marked with Junebug, as Willow has been more singularly active with him than I have, requiring my help less frequently during key nursing or nurturing moments. I can only suspect that the next years with him will find some of the same rejections of the father that have stung with the twins.
But as I said, I'm also sometimes engrossed with my older children, having taken them for walks and trips and outings and time in the garden and a lot of other things since Junebug was born. The preferences for Mommy remain, but I'm finding some new, if unnervingly stereotypical, ways of finding affirmation from my children. That Rambunctious, for example, is super-excited to come watch my soccer game tonight induces extraordinary pride. That Imperia, upon her drop-off from a visit with grandparents, sat plastered up next to me at dinner feels warm and affectionate.
Couple these with the engrossment of a sleeping baby, and you can imagine a pretty satisfying month of fatherhood.