One Year and a Month Old

Dear son,

You’re over a year-old now. Almost 13 months.

We threw a party for you a week after your birthday, in the back room of The Grafton, an Irish pub in Chicago your mom and I love. There was a lot of snow on the ground, and even more coming down that day, but our friends were still able to make it. Your grandma was even able to make it from Michigan, although at the last minute, because her train was delayed for a long time. You had a power nap on the way, and you slept in your carseat while your Mom and I decorated. Your mom went above and beyond with balloons and paper streamers, and party favors consisting of suckers, and rubber duckies, and a sticker of your smiling face on each little bag.

You woke up just as people were starting to arrive, and you were grumpy for the first hour or so, and clung to me or Mom more or less, when you’re usually very amiable about being passed around.

But then we lit the candle on your cake, the banana cake your mom made for you because you love bananas, and everyone gathered around and sang “Happy Birthday”, and you were surprised by all the attention on you, but not scared. I blew out the candle for you (Daddy needs to get back to the gym, it took a couple of tries!), and after that, you seemed to realize that all of this was for you, and you started having a great time and being playful with everyone.

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The party went on for a few hours, and then we drove home and a woman yelled at me out her apartment window for stealing her “dibs” spot on the street.

Such is life in Chicago.

***

You stayed home sick from daycare today. You have an ear infection, and you had a fever yesterday and through the night. But you woke up this morning with no fever, in a much better mood. We maybe could have sent you to daycare, but I had already arranged to not work today, so you and I spent the day together while your mom worked, and then went to “healing circle” with some co-workers, a gathering of different holistic practitioners who over their services in shorter, “sample” sessions. Your mom needed the recharge. The last time she had planned to go to one of these nights, a few months ago, we got word that day your first daycare, Rainbow Brite, was closing unexpectedly, and instead of her going to her healing circle and me sitting in a pub to work while your babysitter, Suzanna, looked after you, your mom and I went to a pub together and took advantage of the all-you-can-eat Friday fish and chips and freaked out and figured out what do to. That was a scary few days, but it worked out, and now you go to Ms. Lety’s place, and you love it there, and one of women who work there, Lissette, calls you her boyfriend, and your mom and I don’t know how we feel about that, but she adores you, and you light up when she answers the door every morning.

But anyway, you stayed home from daycare today, and we spent the day together. This is the longest you and I have spent together without mommy. We hung out in the morning, and ran some errands in the afternoon. We took a short walk with Jessica in the early evening, and then dinner and bedtime.

Bedtime was rough. You did not want to go down, and I tried everything – medicine, more water, more milk, more food. You were having none of it. I finally caved and texted your mom for ideas, and just when she was about to leave, you finally fell asleep, and now I’m writing this.

***

How does it feel to be your dad? I still feel like I’m becoming him. It still doesn’t feel real. I expect one day to wake up and it’s just me and your mom, and you were never born, some cruel joke, because I was never meant to be a parent, never to be trusted with that responsibility. In this scenario of mine, I wake up and not even Jessica Jones is around because I can’t be trusted to care for even a pet. I still feel every day like I’m just doing my best, and that best is barely enough. When it’s just you and me without mom in public together – like today, at Target – I expect someone to come walking up to me and ask if you belong to me, I can’t be your dad, because who would trust me to be a parent?

But then, I am also filled with a joy being your dad I’ve never experienced before. It’s sometimes said that parents come to love their children more than they love their own spouse. I don’t love you more than I love your mom. My love for you is a different kind that feels more profound, perhaps, because I’ve never felt anything like it before.

And I can’t wait to see how that itself grows in the coming weeks, months, and years.

I love you,

Dad