I learned a whole different definition of love the day my son was born. I didn’t know a human heart was capable of holding so much love. From the moment he was born we had an intensely strong connection. Don’t get me wrong … I believe that John loves our son too (to the extent he is capable of) but our relationship was different. I remember joking with John after James was born and saying I was looking for my “push present”. He responded by saying “Are you kidding me? You should be getting me a present for letting you have a baby!”
Starting at a very young age my son (let’s call him James) would cry when I left him alone with his father. I couldn’t even leave him with his father for 3 minutes to use the restroom without hysterical sobbing. Every one of James’ nighttime feedings was done by me, and he ate every 45 minutes. Not joking. John would change a diaper every once in a while, but for the most part James’ care was my responsibility. If we were invited to a family event or party, John would disappear the minute we walked in to go drink and hang out and I would be left to fend for myself and our baby. I was pretty much a walking zombie and I was still working full time. But John viewed James as my responsibility because it was a “gift” that he let me have a child. And, as pathetic as it was, that is where my mind was as well.
As I mentioned in a previous post, John had only allowed me to have James if I promised him two nights a week where he had no parenting obligations and could work on his game. There were many nights that this made my life extremely difficult, but he made it very clear that he was entitled to his two nights to work on his hobby. No exceptions.
At about 3 months of age, James caught a very bad stomach bug. It lasted for about 3 weeks off and on. For those three weeks I was cleaning vomit off myself and James while John worked in the other room on the computer. John never offered to help. The few times my clothes were soaked through he agreed to hold James for a few minutes while I rinsed off in the shower, but then he’d head back to the computer. This pattern repeated when James developed RSV, which then turned into bronchiolitis (similar to bronchitis). I held him in my arms, rocking him while he slept and trying to keep him at an angle that made it easier to breathe ….. and John worked on his game. It never occurred to me that it wasn’t normal that he wasn’t concerned how James was feeling. He never checked in to see if either one of us needed anything. He didn’t see anything wrong with the fact that I was barely gifted a few minutes to use the restroom or shower and he expected to receive two parent free nights. Sadly, I didn’t see anything wrong with it either.
But while he was absent, James and I bonded. And we bonded deeply. It would have been nice to have some help when James was an infant. A little sleep now and again would have been great too. But that child was the first person who really taught me what love is. John missed out on knowing our baby at the level that I knew him. I know he would disagree with me. He’d likely get angry at me and say something like, “I was a perfect husband! And a perfect dad!” (As he has said to me many, many times since I served him with divorce papers) and maybe to his definition of perfection he was. But I know that I can still feel James in my arms when I think about rocking him to sleep those nights. My son still recognizes the lullaby I sang. I still remember the smile he gave me even though he felt terrible… right before he threw up everywhere. Our bond was cemented when he was a baby and I am convinced there is no love stronger than the love between my children and I.