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The ebb and flow of attachment

The thing about being a daddy is this: You want to be the absolute star, the hero, the centre of your boy’s universe. And sometimes that leads to awkward situations when you’re watching your boy’s mom getting more attention, getting more reaction, getting more attachment with your boy.
And that feeling of envy and jealousy surfaces within you and you start to feel like a bastard for feeling like that. After all, it’s only fair that your boy should really be drawn to the person who borne him, who feeds him, and so on.
But you know what? Sometimes I can’t help it. I’m only a human being and I like to feel needed. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but it’s not always a bad thing. I like it when my kid looks at me with his big moon eyes and smiles, and is all excited when he sees me. I like that.
And these last two weeks, it’s not been like that. Of course, I do get it, I do receive the undulating warmth and energy that our boy dishes out, but there were quite a few moments where I was looking at X and seeing that she was getting the lion’s (lioness’?) share of attention. All she has to do is smile, play peek-a-boo, bounce around, flap her hair around, and our boy would be in absolute hysterics. I’m not sure how she does it, but she’s got a knack for it. And little YY, he just gets so excited when he sees her.
And so, jealousy. Envy. Eep!
But then, today, I noticed little YY was a little bit different. He was happy to see me when I came into the daycare to pick him up. He saw me putting on my shoes to go out and he almost seemed sad. When I actually did leave, he was screaming bloody murder at me through the window, as if being home with mommy was the worst, seventh-level-of-hell kind of existence ever.
And I felt a kind of relief. I felt finally that he valued me, that I was important, that I was wanted.
But then I felt something else. I felt like a total bastard for leaving. I felt bad for leaving the house. I almost didn’t want to go, because our poor YY was suffering so much seeing me leave. Poor little thing.
All in all, I figured something out. I am valued for different reasons than X. X is valued by our boy because she is nurturing, kind, warm, gentle. She feeds him. She puts him to bed. She sleeps with him. She makes him feel secure.
And I? I am valued in a different way. I am the guy who shows him stuff outdoors, I’m the guy who takes him for walks, I’m the guy who helps him discover new things. I know, X does the same thing, but I’m doing a lot of that too. I’m looking forward to playing soccer with the little guy, basketball, whatever, all these activities.
And so, that feeling of attachment that little YY has for me and for X, that feeling has its ebbs and flows. Sometimes it just ebbs, it holds up a bit, and makes one of us wonder what’s going on. And then all of a sudden, everything flows.

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Fear of the escalator

I often take the little guy to the Museum of Science in Boston, as a way of getting out of the house and avoiding the pitfalls of cabin fever, and as a way to give little YY a chance to explore and run around and have fun in a safe environment.

The only thing is – he’s starting to learn how to run now. Not all-out screaming kiddy running so fast that you can’t catch him, but rather, putting one foot in front of the other faster and faster until he can’t really control himself. It’s a cute high for little YY who’s discovering all kinds of new things he can do every day.

Today, we were just rambling around the museum – since we’ve been there countless times already on my one-year membership pass – I just let the little guy explore to his heart’s content, then take him home for lunch. It’s a great way to tire him out, and right now he’s at my feet at the other end of the couch, out like a light.

Then, at one point, I saw him kind of – not really – close to the escalator, and moving towards it at what felt like lightning speed. Well, no, not lightning speed, but to a poppa like me, it’s too fast for comfort. I found myself running towards him to grab him before he could get anywhere near the escalator, and felt my body seizing up with that horrible fear that little YY nearly could have gotten hurt. He wasn’t even that close – at least 5 metres away, but boy oh boy, for me, that’s too close for comfort.

What’s interesting is just how much I felt myself panicking inside. It reminded me of a great anecdote that Mel Gibson once told. He said he was in the supermarket with his little girl one day, doing the usual shopping trip – yes, even the guy who made Passion of the Christ – needs to eat once in awhile – and suddenly, to his horror, he couldn’t see his little girl anywhere.

In a fit of panic, he searched the whole store and suddenly, saw her outside on the sidewalk and just about to walk into the street. He said he couldn’t control himself as he ran like a crazed madman through the crowds outside and caught up to his little girl in time.

He said that he had never felt such fear, such panic, before. That was something about being a dad, he said, something you will never understand until you become a parent yourself. It’s an overwhelming feeling. So overwhelming that it can be devastating physically.

I can relate, truly. Seeing YY near the escalator, that was enough to turn me into a crazed grizzly man, this visceral feeling surging up inside me and nothing else mattered except the safety of my little boy.

That’s powerful. Scary, but powerful.

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Staying home with the little guy

It’s funny, being a dad. Especially a stay at home dad. It’s not something you learn much about as a kid, because we’re the first generation, really, to go through the whole stay at home dad phenomenon.

For instance, I don’t recall much about my dad staying at home to take care of me – it was always my mom taking care of that job. My dad, I suppose, was the breadwinner as per the tradition.

But now things are a bit different. The opposite, in fact. I’m the onehome full-time, while my wife brings home the bacon. Is it a weird feeling? Not really. Feels awesome and lonely and tiring and exciting and boring, kind of a mixture of everything. But it’s nice to have this option, sitting in the car while our little boy sleeps in his car seat, giving him a chance to catch his winks before we head to the play space.

There are times where I’ve sensed resentment in others about their own kids – don’t get me wrong, I know everyone, well, at most everyone, loves their kids, but when I talk to folks about their kids, sometimes I do see that they’re frustrated, tired and yes, resentful about their lack of freedom of mobility. 

But that’s an illusion right there.who said having a kid around means you are restricted in your movements? No one said you’re supposed to stay at home and be tired and bored. No one wrote the definitive guide on child raising where they solemnly advised all parents to stay the hell home and do nothing with their time.
In fact, I do have freedom. More than before, in fact. Before,i was working 8 hours a day, commuting 1.5 hours a day, and often tired to the point that I didn’t want to do much on coming home, and didn’t want to do much on the weekends either. But now, I am free to do as I please, and i even have a wonderful companion to do things with. The museum of science, the playground, the park, the lake with the ducks, even just simply strolling around outside, that’s all it takes to put a cute little smile on the face of little YY.

Life as a stay at home dad – it sure can’t be beat.