"So how's it feel to be a shitty parent?"
I have never liked babies. When I’d see them in grocery stores or at the mall, their heads in a lopsided twist with eyes vacantly staring into the distance, I’ve often wondered why would someone have one when all they do is cry and poop and eventually end up on Dr. Phil listing the ways their parents wronged them. Since Jaime became pregnant, my feelings never softened–in fact, the more I learned about pregnancy–and the frighteningly gross process of having a baby–the stronger I felt, grilling up these little vagina-ruiners like they’re wearing colors of a gang not welcomed in these parts.
I expressed these feelings to a few people, hoping that, of all the advice everyone was willing to offer about names, parenting styles and circumcision, someone would have a nugget of wisdom about my baby dislike, but, except for one mom who said, “It’ll all change when you see that baby,” no one had anything to offer, instead changing the subject to why we should never name our kid Justin (Sorry, all you Justin-named readers!) or how disposable diapers killed the spotted owl, the ozone layer and the rain forest.
Well, that one mom was right.
I may not like babies, but I sure do love this one.
On 3:58 p.m. last Saturday, after 24 hours of labor, Baby Sonny was welcomed into this world, and the moment I could get a good look at him, I fell instantly in love with this little boy who, as I used to tell Jaime’s stomach before he was born, started in my balls. From his big dark eyes, to his chubby cheeks to the widow’s peak at the forefront of his full head of hair, I was smitten, and despite being told by my wife around hour 22 that we’ll never have sex again and witnessing something in that delivery room far worse than the most awful videos on 4Chan, I have no regrets, though admittedly I did tell Jaime, after almost stepping in placenta, “Next time let’s adopt.” It’s the only thing I said in my awestruck stupor minutes after the delivery besides “Is he a Ginger?” (to the doctor) and “I love you.” (to Jaime).
That night while Jaime rested in the hospital, I held Sonny, a bundle of deep sleep in my arms, staring at that face and into those eyes when they briefly opened before he nodded out again, and didn’t see the vacancy I’d seen in all those other children–I saw myself, an 8 lb. 11 oz. Brian (All he needed was a beard and a Yankee hat.). My eyes welled up with tears as I wondered how my father could walk away from something so innocent, precious and beautiful, so in need of love and of snuggling from the two people who gave him life.
Leaving Sonny would be like leaving myself, and after spending the last decade tearing myself down and building myself back up through losing, gaining and then losing so much weight, I actually care about myself now, to the point where I want to live, want to grow old and want to be happy. Part of that happiness is living this life I never thought I’d live, a life, for a long time, I never thought I deserved–married with a career, a house, two dogs, a fat cat that won’t let me go an afternoon without feeding her, and a son, who’ll always have his father in his life.
I don’t know what the fuck my father was thinking when he left me and my mother and never came back, but when the door closes behind me, I can’t wait to return, to be back with Jaime, to look down at that baby and see a new me, Sonny, who’ll know he deserves everything he has.