It’s happened three times, and I can still remember every last bit of it…
Standing in a darkened hospital room, holding a fresh new baby in my arms. Introducing myself as their daddy, giving them little kisses on the forehead, and just taking it all in.
It’s the greatest job in the world, bar none. I’ve been blessed with three beautiful, perfect children now (two boys, one girl), and it still amazes me that they are mine. I always wanted to be a dad.
Still, fatherhood brings different challenges that I didn’t expect to deal with, and one of them is connection.
Connection is easy for mothers
Feeling that bond, that intrinsic, emotional connection between a parent and a child is easy for moms. Of course, that’s probably the only job that is easier for mothers, but I digress.
Thanks to the biological connection the two of them have while the baby is in the womb, that child automatically feels a strong bond with their mother. And moms have that same bond back with the kid. They’ve been intimately connected for so long that it’s completely natural. I get it, and I love seeing it.
But there’s a little jealousy there, too. Actively, I am committed and madly in love with each of my children. Yet, when they first come out, there’s a bit of a learning period for the both of us.
I think my babies are beautiful. I want to do anything and everything for them. I love them with my whole life. However, that emotional bond needs to be developed.
One of the quickest and most direct ways that I start developing that bond is by watching my children’s hands.
Kids say all they need to say with their hands
I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s just because hands are something that the children can control, so when they use them, you see their intent.
Whatever it is, when my children reach for me, that’s when I feel the bond the strongest.
It starts when they are babies. My daughter is three months old as I write this. When I picked her up to say “goodbye” this morning, she tucked her little hands under her chest and grabbed onto my shirt. I know it’s just because the shirt was there to grab, but she’s holding tight to her daddy. That’s when I feel the closest to her.
Or when she calms herself by holding my hands.
As she gets older, we’ll strengthen that bond in other ways – the same ways I’ve bonded (and continue to do so) with her older brothers.
And it’s always with intent.
They reach out for my hand when we walk across a parking lot.
They throw their arms around my legs or waist to greet me at the door when I come home.
They hold onto my arm when they get scared.
They wrap their arms around my neck to give me a hug or a kiss, or to pose when they want to take a picture.
They stretch out for me when they fall and need to be comforted.
It’s those little moments that make me feel like a dad, more than anything else.
Hands tell me they trust me
My kids look to me for comfort, for love, for protection, for safety.
They show this to me by using their hands.
Any time they squeeze me tight or reach out for me, I know that I am their father and theirs alone. That bond gets rock solid.
It’s the best.