“We’re going to have a little girl.”
If he had just seen bright seraphim and cherubim, I don’t think his voice would have held more awe. My firstborn was expecting his firstborn, and I think I had never heard such incredulity, reverence, thrill and amazement in anyone’s voice. It was as though his deepest heart’s desire had been granted, as though he had been born wanting a little girl.
When I visited a few weeks after her birth, she slept. He said that he spent surprising chunks of time just watching her sleep. How I remembered. I’d been fascinated into my soul when I watched him sleep when he was that new. Trying to comprehend his being. How do we wrap our minds around a person who didn’t exist a year ago? Who can fathom?
A couple months later, he called with a different voice. He told me he’d just walked into his bedroom and stopped, looking around blankly and saying to himself, “What did I come in here for — OH, NO! I’M MY MOTHER!”
And thus did fatherhood grip him. The brain to mush this soon? Did I laugh? Does a square have corners?
Before too much complacency set in, another announcement. A beautiful boy! My son held both protectively, his newborn son and his little girl, the awe spoken this time in his bowed head. He became fluent in parent-speak, lobbing words like “breast pump” and “diaper rash” effortlessly, acquiring artisanal burping and changing skills. With a smile, a wisecrack, a bit of philosophy, a sense of a secret shared: the lifebond. A man with his daughter and his son. Like a bud meant to bloom, he was a natural. He still is.