I know I’m lucky.
He sweeps. He mops. He hangs laundry on the drying rack. He rubs my feet.
He sits on the little green stool next to Sebastian at the activity table, and fastidiously draws and cuts and pastes for what seem like hours. He deftly lifts Liliana from her bed and soothes her softly when she cries out at night. He bends forwards to carry Sebastian on his back and bends backwards to airplane Liliana on his legs. He is patient, loving, and kind.
And it’s driving me crazy.
I know what you’re thinking: oh please, get over yourself, you’ve got nothing to bitch about. But please: hear me out. Consider these scenarios.
We appear outside Sebastian’s gan at 1:30 pm to pick him up. We is me and Lance; Ima and Aba, side by side. Sebastian runs excitedly to Lance and jumps into his arms calling Aba Aba. I hold my arms out readily and beg for a hug. Then close them in gracelessly.
Liliana is seated at the breakfast table sniveling. I go to appease her, to pacify her, to soothe her. I try to take her into my arms. But she cries “Aba’ye”. I give up.
What woman doesn’t want a good dad for her children?
But a super-dad? Well like we say in Hebrew, לא צריך להגזים, there’s no need to exaggerate.
Just the other morning Sebastian climbed into our bed, clambered in between Lance and I, and nestled up to Lance. Naturally, I tried to get close to him, to partake in this velvety morning delicacy. But the small and purposeful hand that was thrust in my direction told me that there was no place for me in this morning delight.
Feeling completely spurned and rejected by the child I had nursed and nurtured all these (FOUR!) years, I sullenly dragged myself out of bed, set to preparing the oatmeal, and grudgingly plopped a bowl in front of my firstborn as tears clotted in my throat. Such is behavior I might be willing to entertain ten years from now, when I harbor an aloof teenager in my home, but now? At age four? Why these early years are supposed to be the cuddle era, the nuzzle era — the mommy era!!!
Later that morning, after Sebastian had gone to school, I turned dourly to Lance, as tears welled in my eyes. He took me in his arms, caressed me, rocked me, and as my heart melted and my wounded tears turned tender, all I could think was Aba Aba Aba.
Postcript: A few evenings ago I returned home to an exuberant reception. Sebastian ran over and embraced me snugly. I clasped him firmly and held the moment as I held my son. Until my trance was shaken by Liliana’s cry. She too was waiting for her hug. Hurt feelings and hugs it seems, is the substance of childhood. And parenthood.