It has been a month since chubby baby Samuel made his stubborn entry into the world at exactly 5:55 AM. I saw the nurse hold him up. There, suspended in mid air with his dark hair all awry and his chubby cheeks I took in my son. I took him deep into my soul. My love for him branded with a Father’s fire. When I held him in my arms feeling his warmth against my arms and seeing his head turn tracking the sound of my voice I wept. After months of feeling his feet kicking against my wife’s burgeoning belly and watching his back ripple like a wave across her stomach when he rolled over he was here. In the flesh. My son. My big nearly 10 pound beautiful son.
I am a father now. The title still feels strange, like a new pair of shoes that haven’t quite yet conformed to your feet. Dad. That word has never been meant for me before. It’s always been a foreign descriptor pointing towards someone else. Loaded with all sorts of wonderful memories and images of my own dad. Filled with responsibility and expected wisdom. It’s an adult word. And yet somehow it is now my word. It is part of me. I am dad.
I snuggle Samuel in my arms caressing the fat roles on his arms and legs. I stare into his eyes wondering what he is thinking. I rock back and forth like so many men have done before me. I gentle bounce him as I walk the length of our small apartment until I’m sure I have worn a path in the rug. Sometimes we waltz in the kitchen. We rise and fall smoothly, spinning in circles as I hum softly. When the rest of the world is rightfully sleeping I strut and stomp about, a tired fool, as he wriggles against his swaddle fighting sleep.
I sing to him all the songs of my own childhood. The songs that are in my blood. All the oldies that mama used to sing to me over and over again. Songs that became more than songs. Songs that became safety and love and sweet dreams. Songs that live long after their notes have disappeared. I sing all of those generational songs and Samuel listens in his own little way. Baby Balooga washes over him hushing his fussing. I swear that You are my Sunshine brings a smile. Bill Grogan’s Goat is the final straw and he is off to sleep. His grandfather used to sing that song in his old warbly voice. Someday he will sing it too.