This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
And it’s all because I get to spend Wednesdays with Will. Just the two of us, all day long. I have to admit, I was very nervous about the arrangement at first. I understood why we needed to do it, to cut down on daycare costs. But still…I would be responsible for my son? All day? Just me and no MJ?? I was really scared. But thankfully I think I’m getting this whole Dad thing down and now I love it. It also helps that Will is an unbelievable, wonderful, extraordinarily well-behaved and amicable baby.
Take yesterday for example. He slept through the night — again — and then we got up and had some breakfast. After we took the dogs for a walk, I decided that we’d drive an hour north to Norton because I needed a haircut. Why drive an hour for a haircut you ask? Because the only place I will get my hair cut is Tom’s Barber Shop at 195 W. Main Street (Rte. 123) in Norton. Tom and his son Dennis are not only great barbers, fun people and funny as hell, but they just happen to provide THE PERFECT atmosphere for a real barber shop. None of this salon stuff. They swear and tell off-color jokes and use the hot shave lotion with a straight-edge razor. I know I sound like an advertisement here, but if you live in the area and want a great hair cut, look no further than Tom’s. And even though Will is still bald, that didn’t stop the guys from gushing over him as he sat there like a perfect angel as I got my hair cut and shot the shit with the guys.
And while I was up there, I figured I’d make the rounds and visit my relatives. First it was off to my mom’s work where the entire office stopped what they were doing to come and play with Will. Now some babies don’t like a whole lot of people around them because they get overstimulated. But Will isn’t like that. He actually starts to show off and put on a show, smiling and laughing and giggling the entire time. This went on for 45 minutes and her co-workers literally couldn’t take their eyes off him.
Then we went to my dad’s work and it was more of the same. And even though I knew he was tired, I decided to chance one more stop to my grandmother’s house. He was asleep when we went into her apartment, and to my grandmother’s credit she didn’t wake him even though she really wanted to. She just leaned down and gave him a little kiss. But sure enough, as if Will somehow knew how badly she wanted to play with him, he got a second wind and soon he was wide awake and making cute faces at her, much to my grandmother’s delight.
I know I brag a lot and that may be obnoxious, but I love this kid so much and I love being a dad. I mean, you just have to see Will in action and how happy he makes people. My father is an absolute lunatic for Will. We literally cannot stop him from buying presents whether that’s books, Red Sox stuff, toys and even starting a savings account. My father may have a legitimate addiction to Will, as he cannot seem to put him down or look away from him for more than 30 seconds at a time. My mother is starting to get a little resentful as she recently told him “You didn’t pay this much attention to OUR kids when they were babies!” And my mom, despite being a little hesitant that she was actually old enough to be a grandmother, absolutely lights up every time she sees Will. Unfortunately for her, that isn’t often as my father will resort to physically accosting her in order to be the first to hold the baby.
But it was watching my grandmother interact with Will that was really moving for me. She’s getting up there in age and she doesn’t get to leave the house as much as she’d like. And truthfully, I’ve probably been a less than stellar grandson by not coming to visit her as much as I should. But when I surprised her with Will yesterday, she played with him for an hour straight and it looked as if she was suddenly 50 years younger. She was picking him up and as if on cue, he would smile and laugh and the two of them would giggle with each other for the next few minutes. And then they’d start the whole process over again. And all she could keep saying was “Oh Aaron, he’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life.”
And she’s right. There’s something very special about my son. And sure the same is probably true for all babies, but this one is mine so indulge me here. I hear horror stories about colic, not sleeping, reflux, sickness and constant crying…but Will has had none of that, or at least very little. He’s legitimately the happiest baby I’ve ever personally laid eyes on and I can’t get enough of him. I play with him constantly and as soon as I put him down I want to pick him back up again. His smile is like a powerful narcotic, I simply need it to survive on a daily basis.
I think my favorite time of the day is the morning when he wakes up. I go into the nursery when he stirs and I pick him up. And he’s taken aback for a second, the sleep still lingering in his eyes. But then he recognizes me. He knows that his daddy is there and he smiles because he already knows how much daddy loves him and how he will always take care of him. It’s the most unbelievable feeling in the world and I can’t get enough of it.
I knew being a father would be life-altering. But I was so scared at first, because I had no idea what to do. No instructions, no manuals…it was like “Here’s your baby, raise him right” but how do you even do that? And would this baby even like me? Does he know how clueless and petrified I am? A part of me honestly thought I would be a lousy father, but instead I think I’ve found my calling. I love being a journalist and a writer, but I’d give it all up in a second to be a stay at home dad. I’m serious, no job I’ll ever have will compare to the satisfaction I get when I spend all day with my son. It’s a happiness I’d been searching for, but never quite believed I could attain. Don’t get me wrong, I’m deliriously happy with my wife and I love her to death. But love for a child is different. I don’t want to say more meaningful or powerful than the love I have for my wife, but just different.
And when I think about how someone could be a deadbeat dad or beat or molest their child, it completely baffles me and makes me sick. How could any man not love being a father? And how could any father even contemplate being abusive? While I don’t personally believe in the death penalty, I’m pretty sure I’d make an exception for people who harm children.
Anyways, I’d just like to say thank you to my son Will. Thank you for being an amazing kid. Thank you for brightening up my life like I never knew was possible. Thank you for making all the little crappy things I used to notice in life disappear. I love you buddy!