Friday, January 12, 2007

Fathers and Mothers

After The Boss was born and the morphine wore off, my midwife came in to sit beside my hospital bed on an institutional glider. She rocked placidly, her hands folded in her lap. First she said I would more than likely develop strong feelings about The Boss's delivery. She said it was okay to feel sad. Then she looked over at my husband, who was holding his daughter's head in his hand, The Boss's lithe body following the length of his forearm.

"The fathers always hold them like that," the midwife said. "It's the most natural thing." She rocked in calm survey of the scene, her back and forth motion carrying the conversation out of the blue.

I looked over at The Partner and saw the innate ease with which he supported our newborn. Behind him, panes of frosted glass muted the summer light. My bedside was dark. I might've sighed with contentment. I might've just laid there.

Looking back on it, I see the football hold as the first proof of protection. It's the bond of body heat fusing father with child. It's a basic connection when there's nothing else in the way. The barriers come later--days later, months later, years later--when life starts to separate from birth.

It's hard to be a family. I remember a picture my friend sent me of her husband with their own baby in the same hold. A tiny head in a huge arm. It looked easy then. Now their daughter is four years old. Now my friend is getting divorced.

The Partner and I are in a rough spot right now--let's face it, we almost always are. So for sanity's sake, I look for things separate from us. I look for links to something solid that we can't obfuscate with common misunderstanding.

That thing is parenthood. It's fathers and the football hold. It's a photographic negative to hold up to the light when nothing else is black and white.'s De-Lurking week. This is a time for all you silent readers to come out from under your rock of anonymity. I mean, there must be at least four of you out there. Help give my under-exercised comment box a run for its money.


Kristen said...

Thanks ECR. From someone who is always in a rough spot with the dad side, I appreciate your thoughts on this.

Michele said...

Geez. Just when I was all set to post about a lady with a mullet and an Elvis sticker, you go and blow me away with this.

(Very deep sigh)

Marriage is so hard. The daily grind of the mundane interspersed with money and responsibility imbalances wears away the people that we were when we met.

I am sorry you are going through this. We have our own struggles, and they would be so very easy to walk away from - in my head anyway - if not for the fact that he fathers so well.

Awkward, but heartfelt hug.

Mrs. Chicky said...

Yes, you lurkers, come out and comment on this woman's writing. Don't make me come in there and get you.

I'm sorry you're in a rough spot right now with your husband, Binky. But you managed to find a soft spot in your relationship and I admire you for that.

reluctant housewife said...

Oh dear. What a post the delurk on.

(But it was beautifully written.)


bubandpie said...

How amazing, that you can take something so hard and painfully unglamorous and put it in words that are so beautiful.

And yeah - that's one hell of a de-lurking week post.

Jordan said...

Delurking to say beautifully written.

toyfoto said...

There are days I wish I could put mine in a closet (and only take him out when I need him).

Lauren said...

I'm not going to comment because I plan on rebelling through delurk week.

a) Love you.
b) Anything that involves men is hard.
c) If anyone can weather a storm, it's you.

Mrs. Chicken said...

Oh, Binky. I hope things get better. Mr. Chicken and I often reside in the patch of which you speak. Keep remembering that you are fused together forever in the Boss' tiny body.

I'm here if you want to chat.

Jene said...

Was "obfuscate" in the book of words, lol?! Miss you - love you - come visit any time! You always have a place to stay in Ft. Lauderdale!

debra said...

I've been reading your blog for quite a while and can't remember if I've commented before or not. Either way, hello!

tracey said...

Delurking. Heavy sigh.

Perhaps you are in a season of winter. That comes in all marriages. I am hoping that Spring will soon reveal herself.

Joker The Lurcher said...

yup. the kids thing is not always conducive to harmony - thats for sure! i think men have a hard time accepting that they will never again be the mother's number one person. it certainly seems to bring out some sort of sibling rivalry in mine.

and hi from the lurking lurcher!

admin said...


very well written. I hope things get better. I appreciate your thought about the parteners bond being its strongest just after delivery. I had thought ours had been the strongest it had ever been when our child was born but I had not thought it was the strongest it would ever be!


Jenifer said...

My husband and I are both on our second marriage. Does that make us any wiser? Does it make it any easier?.... No.

Marriage is THE hardest thing i have ever done. The effort in keeping happiness and harmony in that relationship is even harder than parenting has been for me thus far.

As long as you both recognize you are in a rough spot and are willing to work through it, that's half the battle. Hubby and I have been in a similar spot lately due to the stress of remodeling our house and living with my mother right now. We both realize we are stressed and it at least makes the bickering and snide comments a little easier to get over when we can see each other's perspective.

Good luck....

PunditMom said...

I'm sorry about your rough spot. We're there too ... nothing major, but not a lot of connecting going on.

It sounds like you're trying to find the right stuff there to reconnect, as well!

T. said...

Ah Binks,

How you manage to be eloquent while talking about this subject is beyond me. And that my friend is why I keep coming back. Maybe to learn a thing or two from you.

As for the rough spot, well the hubs and I have been in one since the Bug died. It comes and goes, but it seems to come more often than not.

It is only through sheer force of will on both our parts that we haven't separated a time or two.

But we just refuse to become one of those statistics of parents who divorce after the death of a child.

That and he's really cute. And I do love him. I just have to keep reminding myself why sometimes.

I hope you and your hubs glide over this patch unscarred and right into each other's arms.

That is my wish for you, dear friend.

jen said...

oh, sister. i can relate. we've hit a bump ourselves - and i haven't quite been able to talk about it. it is very hard sometimes. and then it gets easier.

and so it goes.

Toni-Marie said...

I'd never thought of the way fathers hold their children, but your right I know alot of fathers that hold their new borns that way my ex was one of them, and it is truly the first form of protection.

Anonymous said...

The only two picture I have up of him are those where he is holding her in the football hold. The pictures are beside her bed. -AJ

Jenny said...


This post moved me to tears. I don't know what to I won't say anything except "thank you".

Lawyer Mama said...

Wonderful post. Just wonderful.

Marriage is hard and marriage after a child is even harder.

bethiclaus said...

I'm running a little late, but wanted to say hi!

mamatulip said...

De-lurking, sort of, to tell you what a beautiful post this is. Raw, honest, real.

Anonymous said...

Delurking. To say Hi.


binkytown said...

Sorry I'm so late to the party on this. Hope things are going more smoothly or feel more managable this week on the homefront. Big hugs.