This feels like a confession so I’ll just say it plainly: I am not yet in love with Owen. I could lie. I could say I fell in love when I saw him emerge with his vernix sheen. And I swear (with my hand on my heart) I believe in love at first sight. It happened to me before—twenty-three years ago, to be precise, on the first day of my sophomore year at Wissahickon, when I turned a corner and glimpsed for the first time my future wife, Karen Magowan.
But I did not fall in love with Owen—or Ella, for that matter—at first sight. Perhaps a mother’s love is immediate. Perhaps a father falls in love in fits and starts. When Karen wakes at three in the morning to nurse Owen, I wake too, but not with her sense of serenity. Nursing in the middle of the night, she smiles with a radiance not unlike the happily drugged. She likes the night light. I hate it. So a bit dazed, a bit annoyed, I throw my t-shirt over my face, try to ignore Owen’s glugging, Karen’s wakefulness: her iPhone glow, her feet rubbing together.
Thankfully, I’ve been through this before. Looking at Ella now, I can scarcely fathom a time when the mere thought of her did not mobilize my senses.
Everything for her, I think and feel. And her mother. Karen—who I miss now in my selfish way. Karen—the women I’d share a bed with, alone if not for Owen.
And everything for Ella’s brother, Owen, I suppose I should say.
Fits and starts. At least this is my experience.
Or perhaps this is my own preposterous flaw. I’m hesitant to Google it. I’d hate to discover I’m a monster.
In my defense, I can pinpoint my most recent fit. This morning I put Owen in the nook of my arm and whispered in his ear, “Relax, son.” It was the first time I had addressed him so: son. He was crying, as he does, with his breathtaking lip quiver. Or so it felt to me: breathtaking. So I whispered again (with my hand on my heart), “Relax, son. Daddy loves you.” And who knows, perhaps I was telling the truth—in a way I do not yet understand.
Originally posted on Facebook.