Monday, February 1, 2010

Tears for Fears

I spent most of last weekend in a perpetual state of anxiety. It was awesome. If you've never tried this AND you're in a loving , committed relationship that's going much too smoothly for your liking, I highly recommend mixing this with several awkward attempts at expressing your feelings and a few ill-timed constructive criticisms of your spouse. If done correctly - and by correctly I mean the way I did it - I suspect by Monday you will be alone and miserable or owe many ingratiating apologies. Fortunately, I have a very forgiving wife who had her own feelings to deal with and told me she didn't really have the time or energy to take mine on. Amen to healthy marriages.

Three months ago I started this blog in anticipation of being a primary stay-at-home parent. I was excited, nervous, and afraid, and when Amari arrived those feelings only deepened. Each day I felt more confident and capable as a parent, but the fear continued to swell - as though the higher I climbed the farther I would inevitably fall. How would I eventually disappoint this perfect little being? I had already left her behind when I returned to work - some of the saddest and proudest days of my life. I missed Amari desperately and took every opportunity to talk about her and show off pictures. I lasted a week and ended up extending my paternity leave for another month.

Today Carrie returned to full-time work, and as the changing of guards approached we were both very sad. Carrie is much more mature than I am so when she's sad, she's just sad. It's very healthy. I, on the other hand, generally express my sorrow with adolescent irritability and condescension. It's what we in the counseling field call a growth edge, while others call it a serious character defect. Now that the moment has arrived, Carrie loves being a mom more than she ever imagined, which makes returning to work almost unbearable. Meanwhile, back in the Hall of Selfishness - I was too worried about the impact this would have on our finances to honor her feelings. Don't let anyone convince you that therapists make great husbands.

By Sunday my feelings had worked themselves up into a nice unhealthy lather. Rather than appreciating what I was once excited, thrilled, and afraid of, I was freaking out about things outside my control. After a long talk, a longer walk by the ocean, and a game-winning shot by Kobe Bryant to seal the victory over the Boston Celtics, I was starting to feel much better. Then I was once again reminded that all my fears of the unknown are completely soluble in the reality of the present moment.

On Sunday afternoon Amari began doing something she'd never done before, something so wonderful and endearing that it acted as an amnesiac to everything that preceded it. She started sticking her tongue between her lips and making raspberry noises. Yup. That's it. Simple to some, but she was so enchanted by her new ability that she kept doing it over and over again. We started mirroring it back to her and she lit up, kicked her legs, and laughed. It was communication and it was all hers. She sprayed again, and again, and again until an adorable, foamy mess had formed on her lips. I wiped it away and the game started over, and with each round came a little laugh. So freakin' cute that I forgot all about my worries.

Later on, as Amari lay stretched across my arms, chest, and legs, soundly sleeping through her twitches, smiles, and giggles, I imagined she must be dreaming of a few hours ago. I hoped she was, and I hoped that when I finally went to bed that I would be, too.


1 comment:

  1. Hang in there and don't be too hard on yourself.