Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The gifts your newborn brings

For those of you who saw the previous picture to this post, you saw my oldest son dressing up as Robin for his 4th birthday. We also put a mask on our 3 month old, who, in this picture anyway, resembles Dame Edna.

I think all those clich├ęs about being more relaxed as a parent the second time around are true. I was at the stove flipping bacon with one hand and my 3 day old in the other just after he was born. Had that been my first son, I’m sure we would have had him in a hazmat suit at least 30 yards from the stove.

The other miracle that comes with being a parent for the second (or third, or seventeenth) time—you can’t believe you have enough love in you to love the new one as much as you did the first one.

I often just stare at my infant son and marvel at him—“baby TV” as my sisters call it. I can just stare at him and become quite emotionally overcome.  I’ve met some men, however, who have been brave enough to admit that when their child was born, they didn’t “get it.” They loved their child, of course, but they weren’t overcome with emotion as they were made to expect. They then often say that after a few months, when the baby becomes more interactive, that bonding begins to take off.

If you are a new dad, or expecting, don’t beat yourself up if you are one of those aforementioned men. You aren’t alone and you aren’t a bad father. Trust that those feelings will come in time.

I’ve written before that I am most overwhelmed with feelings of love for my children when I am totally present to them. I think Eckhardt Tolle would say that in those moments, I am fully in the “now” which, he preaches is the only place in which we can really live.

If you are struggling a bit with those nascent feelings, take a page from Eckardt’s book (unless it’s a library copy ;-) and try and be in the present with your newborn. Try little things. Watch their little chest rise and fall with each breath. Marvel at the teeny little dimples between their knuckles. Caress their impossibly smooth skin. Hold them gently to your body and take in that wonderful baby smell. Let them fall asleep on your chest and just feel them there.

With each of these suggestions, don’t have any expectations. Don’t try for any results. Just let your baby take you into the present and let things be.

Bringing you into the present moment is one of the greatest gifts your child will ever give you.  And when it comes to that gift, no one is better at it than a newborn.

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