Kevin’s post reminded me of the one-armed meals I ate when Ian was little[r]. He’d fall asleep in the crook of my arm, and I’d finish the meal with one hand and an aching left arm. Kelly would open my
ketchup catsup mustard bottles.
It’s not as touching as it sounds. I don’t know why I didn’t just put Ian in his carrier. Maybe there wasn’t room, or I wanted to let everyone else eat. I highly suspect that I tended to play the martyr (it’s probably my best role), and I certainly remember wondering if I’d ever have a peaceful, comfortable meal again.
Despite my selfish impatience, I like to think that at such times, the father who I would become, am becoming, was speaking to me.
‘Don’t let him go. Soon enough his legs will grow, his back will strengthen, and you will be replaced by a highchair, booster-seat, and nothing at all. In this, you are redundant.
‘Soon, mealtimes for you will mean mealtimes for him, and he will never again be so accommodating.
‘Soon he will fall asleep everywhere but in your arms. Soon you will need both arms to hold him, and even then not for very long. Soon he will not want to be held.’
The point is not that I regret my thoughts or actions (though I do). The point is that I don’t remember being annoyed or impatient or grumpy. I just remember the soft weight of a baby in my arm, breathing softly, and covered in a napkin because Daddy’s a messy eater.