I’ve had a post rattling around in my “to be written” bin for a few months now. There it languished, bumped by more pressing posts bubbling up to the surface and by a general lack of knowing how to write it.
The post was all about how I expected this lightning bolt to hit me when my kids first rolled over or crawled or walked and how it never came. Obviously their first steps were nice accomplishments and I was glad they took them. But there was no lightning bolt. I had been told that the Mom-child bond is immediate but that the Dad-child bond sometimes takes a while. Not that Dads don’t immediately love their children. It is just that the “lightning bolt” moment sometimes takes a while. Yet, milestone after milestone passed without notice. The first month went by; then four went by, then 8 went by. We passed 12 months (1 year!); nothing.
Just to be clear, I still loved my kids more than anything. Before I had kids of my own I would have scoffed at the idea that fatherhood is something you have to experience to understand. By your mid-thirties you should be able to understand most things in life even without experiencing them personally. Fatherhood is different. I don’t mean this derogatorily, but if you aren’t a Dad, you really wouldn’t understand.* Before becoming a Dad, I would have suggested parents who said they could stare at pictures of their kids all day long should maybe find a hobby.
So anyway, a year passed, then more. Yet at no point could see myself looking back in 25 years with a prideful tear in my eye.
This isn’t that post, exactly, because on the way to 24 months, something changed. Recently, while lying in bed one night that lightning bolt hit.
I so expected it to come at a singular moment – that first step or first word – that its sudden generalness caught me off guard. Just lying their thinking about them in this vague way evoked lightning inside me.
Lightning struck several times since.
On the morning I typed this I found myself staring at a picture of one of my boys. I flipped over to another picture, this time of both. Flipping back and forth I realized I could see them as big boys. It isn’t the first time I’ve seen their future faces in their present ones, but time it was different.
This time, I just wanted to stare. To forever freeze time in this one moment; to just stare at their faces in a way I dismissed so easily before.
* Moms exempted, of course.