Like Macbeth, I am certain that I “shall sleep no more.” I am about three weeks into playing the fascinating role of father to our little girl. Despite how well-behaved she is as a newborn, my sleep is a disjointed mess and I am never really certain what day it is at the moment. Still, I regret nothing and fully understood where this next step in my life’s journey would take me: home.
Truly if there is one concept that has become illuminated for me, then it would be that of home. With the Christmas tree all aglow 24 hours a day and carols on constant shuffle, I sense a feeling of place that is difficult to recognize as anything other than the home we all want to create and foster for the family we build and love. Home is not just where the heart is, nor is it Where you simply hang a hat, but rather it is where you deliberately instill a routine and awareness of ever man, woman, child and dog under the roof. Such a foundation takes time and effort to build; it is not a thing that can be purchased at Pottery Barn nor is it a Martha Stewart table setting. Home is built on tears, hard work and the laughter in between.
I am a school teacher. I know how involved raising children is on a daily basis, and I can tell the difference between a child who has been loved and one who has been simply given things, a nanny and a wish of luck. I will never be perfect. But I will always choose the path that will give my little girl the best chance at becoming a caring, strong woman with the integrity and intelligence to stand for what she believes in. The sacrifices I need to make are not onerous nor are they unfair, but becoming Papa does require that I think about more than myself and only about myself.
The benefit of feeling a little creature snuggle next to me, with a milky, bumpy mouth is unique in the pantheon of human experiences. Perhaps that is the comfort of fatherhood: the odd, tiny moments you did not know existed with a person who did not exist before the act of creation and birth.
I write this all as I walk home from the streetcar on a frigid Friday night to help my beautiful wife take care of the baby, to give her a much-deserved break and to have a night at home. I was going to join-jitsu. I was, and I could have, but some decisions need to be made for the sake of balance. Jiu-jitsu will always be there as long as I remain true to my commitments and go when I can, but this little milk-faced monster will evolve before I blink. I can use the rest anyway, right? The massage therapist diagnosed a sprained metatarsal ligament in my right foot, a strained MCL in my right knee and scar tissue in my adductor muscles. Time to head home…home for a rest.