I was told time and time again that Eliza would have me wrapped around her finger. And from the moment she was born, this was very much the truth. But that attachment has been largely emotional, almost guttural, more expressive and less practical. This last week, though, something has changed in the way Eliza and I interact, and I thought I should tell the story.
I have felt comfortable with Eliza since the moment she was laid on Christine’s chest. In the months leading up to her birth, I had the opportunity to hold several infants and – I will not lie – I felt uncomfortable. It did not feel natural, I felt awkward, and this worried me about holding Eliza. But when I hold Eliza in my arms, everything feels right with the world. It feels like I was made to hold her – the way she fits in my hands, lays on my chest, and, recently, looks at me are so affirming to my fatherhood. It feels, strangely, ordinary.
From the day we took her home I have loved playing with her. Because Christine spends the majority of the time with her, I grab her up any time she is alert. I started having conversations with her, as if she could understand every word that I was saying. Of course, we also play paddy-cake, have big-girl hugs, and bounce around on my knees – but I have intentionally tried to start building our relationship around conversation. This is something that I want us to have as we progress into her talking years, her adolescence, and her adulthood.
In the last week or so, the sweetest thing has been occurring. Whenever I walk into a room and Eliza hears my voice, she whips her head around until she finds me. And when we make eye-contact, and I begin to speak to her, she smiles. It is unreal, and my mother (who is staying with us this week) and Christine have been able to witness this slight transformation. I am beginning now to understand the oft-used saying “a father’s joy.” But this is not because Eliza has done anything to make me proud – she is not capable of that yet – but because she wants to know me, and I want to know her.