First off, I’ll like to apologise to my son, my wife and every other person concerned. Last week I ended my diary by saying my son looked like a potato when I first saw him. I’ve been told by my wife, mother, mother-in-law and Childcare Services, that it’s not a proper thing to say, even if I was thinking it. Thanks guys for the correction, but I have a confession to make.
Oh that’s right, I lied. I did not first think my son looked like a potato. A potato is not life-like, but the little young man I was looking at was anything but immobile. He was wriggling his entire body and he was pink, really, REALLY pink all over. You want to know what I actually thought in that moment? The whole truth and nothing but the truth? He looked like a big pink rodent, right before they develop their fur. Now before Childcare Services and the women in my life come calling again, let me explain.
You see, I actually had nothing to compare a one-hour-old baby to, nothing at all. All my life, the babies I had seen looked bigger, less pink, eyes always open and vocal chords to rival Celine Dion’s. The babies were probably a month or over a month old, swapped in beautiful clothes that seemed to fit them perfectly. That was the version I saw – or the version Hollywood sold to me as the image of a new born baby.
My son on the other hand looked nothing like so. He still looked amazing and beautiful, as I assume babies fresh out of the oven always looked, but he looked different from an already established image I had. I kept staring at him and how fragile he looked, how even though at 3.2KG birth weight, which the nurses claimed is a very good weight for a baby, he looked like the wind could blow him away at any second. He was fragile, but he was my fragile. He looked like a pink rodent, but he was my pink rodent. And in that moment, my heart did a little flutter, and I knew this little pink man was mine, and that it was now my job to protect him.
Still on the topic of confessions, I have another one to make. You know how in movies or TV commercials, they show a father carrying his baby right after childbirth, the mom looking all radiant in the background, and then the father is holding out a finger for the baby, who then holds that finger and – bam! – a connection is made? The connection they call Love? Well, I felt nothing of the sort.
You get where I’m going with this, right? I felt absolutely no instant love. Yes, I immediately felt a sense of duty and protection, but the image of when the love sets in was lost on me. I tried the finger-in-his-palms trick, but the little man was not opening his palms for nothing. Not Naira, Dollars, Euros or his father’s loving finger. That palm was not budging open, and I was not getting my I-love-you moment. My wife might have felt the instant love for our son, but I highly doubt that too. A woman does not get to push a 3.2KG baby out of her vagina and instantly feel love. The months of back ache, nausea, irritation, puffy face, swollen feet and a whole lot of uncomfortable things – and you expect her to then instantly feel love the moment the baby is out? I suspect the first feeling is relief, glorious instant relief, with the desire to take a long hot shower.
The love always comes later, and it varies for different parents. I do not know when that of my wife set in. She is sleeping as I write this, so I can’t ask her. But I do know when my unadulterated love and affection for my little pink man set in.
Erm, I think I have to stop calling him my little pink man before he grows up to read this and think I was referring to him as a male elastic appendage.
Ok, Moving on.
It was the first time I heard him laugh. It was the first time I carried him, made one or two comic expressions with my face, and he laughed. Oh, that laugh warmed my heart. And it made me want more. I continued making the faces, and then, I swung him around, and I tickled him (though that didn’t work). And he laughed and laughed and laughed. My heart and entire being felt wonderful and light as a feather. In that moment, I knew what it really felt like to love my son undilutedly, one hundred percent, and with no holds barred. In that moment, all my fears of wondering if I’ll make a good father evaporated. In that moment, the sense of duty, machismo and protection I had always felt for him became even more amplified.
I loved him and there was no going back on that. He might get me slightly angry when he throws his tantrums, cracks my laptop screen, throws cake all over his god-parents’ carpet, misplaces his mothers earrings. But all that instantly fades when he looks at me and laughs. He laughs and I laugh back. He has found my Achilles Heel and he is sure as hell exploiting it.
I had finally gotten my TV commercial moment and it was worth it.
Written by Anyibaba