It’s incredible to me how fatherhood seems to run at multiple speeds. Most days are like the treadmill. The pace is constant and tiring, the world outside takes on this ethereal quality and your days revolve around a constant knowledge that the baby is going to eat again within the next 3 hours. You try not to watch the clock but it’s hard to break out of the rhythm of feeding, playing and changing long enough to make dinner, much less feel normal again. Things stay cute and predictable.
Other moments are different.
In these other times, it’s like the treadmill stops but your legs keep churning and before you know it you are in a new place. Desperately, you try to piece back together just how you got there. You grasp hold of every moment as if they are drifting off like red dirt in the Lubbock wind. By the end, all that’s left of what got you here are tiny instants. Flashes of smiles and strawberry blonde hair and deep blue eyes that drown you and poopy diapers and small belly buttons and tiny hugs that hurt because the love you feel crushes every inch of you. There really is nothing like it.
Roosevelt was born 12 days ago. Today she lays in my lap, facing me, as I polish off a pina colada Bahama Buck’s sno cone. Even though it’s early February, it’s 92° outside. Welcome to Texas. She has her eyes wide open and stares at me, lingering awkwardly, keeping eye contact for too long as only babies can do. Her eyes seem to drive through my skull. They are the deepest ocean blue, just like her mom’s. It’s evident, evolutionarily speaking, why our children look so much like us. By finding your own features and your partner’s features on your child’s face, you are guaranteed to be attracted to your children. It’s is the external manifestation of that primal, unconditional love that adds another layer of attachment between a parent and their children. It is in this moment, as I question the nature of genetic traits while dumping semi-frozen liquid sugar down my throat, that my gorgeous, perfect, darling daughter, stares me down with those ocean eyes, scrunches up her face and proceeds to shit all over me. The world speeds up.
I try hard to hold every detail of that next hour. Claire takes Rosie from me and rushes her to the nursery changing table while I half-limbo my 6’5″ frame down the hall, trying hard too keep all the poo on my pants and not the carpet. I’ll assume that some of you readers don’t have children and have never really dealt with baby poop. Breast fed babies have very distinct poop. It’s like mustardy green slime mixed with curdled milk. Babies can project the stuff like cannon fire at Pickett’s Charge. Remember in season 4 of Game of Thrones when the Mountain, Sir Gregor Clegane, fights the Red Viper, Oberyn Martell, of Dorne and at the end where (SPOILERS, although it’s been 3 years so also like, get over it) the Mountain crushes his head with his bare hands and blood and brains spray every where? Gross right? Well my 7 pound daughter was apparently trying to do the poopy cosplay of that scene. The force of that defecation blew through the seal her diaper makes with her leg, through the gap between the snaps of her onesie and all over my pants. It was great… terrible, but great. I digress.
I somehow manage to remove the nuclear holocaust that is my clothes as I hear Claire call from the nursery “Oh my goodness, her cord finally fell off!” A very exciting moment when the dried stump of remaining umbilical cord falls off her perfect new belly button. This also means that Rosie can have her first real bath. Apparently the poop gods smiled favorably upon us today, because the idea of sponge bathing that child clean was about as appealing as me hand-washing my pants. Together, we strip her down and pull out approximately 500 bath time accessories from random cubbyholes, of which you really need three, a tub, a sponge and a cup. But hey, first time parents need all the cool useless things to fill baby registries with and there was no telling me that that the scrubber-ducky 5000 wasn’t a completely necessary addition to our home.
Bath time was amazing. She loved it. Eyes wide and curious, she sank into a sink full of warm water and we gave her the spa treatment of her young life. She loves to be pampered, I’m shocked. It was a whirlpool of shampoo and coos, but then it was over and there were cute towels with elephants and new diapers and hairbrushes and then it was just her staring up from my arms as we walked outside in the fading light of the warm Texas sun. From poop-splosion to towels took 30 or 40 minutes and yet it’s hard to be sure it happened at all. It’s funny how fatherhood runs at different speeds.