When dad’s confused, it’s good to have mom around
When you look at the videotape, you can tell instantly Isabell knew the score. Her mom and dad might have had no clue, but leave it to a child to see the truth.
On the day we first held our daughter, I was a wreck. I found myself wandering around the room, camera in hand, with no particular sense of purpose or direction. I couldn’t escape to the hotel room. That, I knew, would look bad. And I couldn’t go near my wife because, dear reader, she had a baby in her arms. My baby. And I was scared to death.
So, if you look closely at pictures of my face during our first meeting with our daughter Isabell, you can see my eyes are open so wide you could drive a tractor-trailer right through them.
Bev, however, was as calm as a black-diamond skier on a bunny slope.
If you look at video of that fateful day, you will automatically notice the difference in mom and dad’s newly tested parenting skills.
You will spot Isabell’s father spending a great deal of time staring at his daughter, who was by then sitting comfortably in his wife’s arms, without touching her. And when, after several minutes, dear old dad does make the attempt at physical contact, instead of holding her or kissing her, he kind of pokes her in the arm as if she’s some kind of bizarre hallucination.
I just thank God that at the time I didn’t start drooling and hitting myself on the head with a frying pan.
My wife, who should have been just as dazed and stupid, was all business.
I don’t know whether she was running on hard-wired motherly instinct or whether she faked it like a con man after your money, but if you look at the same video that shows me bumping into furniture, you can see that in the time it took the nannies to hand Isabell to Bev, Bev transformed into a honest-to-God mother.
While I was still shaking fatherly hands and slapping fatherly backs, Bev knew Isabell would be in a state of shock. So to care for our daughter she escaped the chaos of the meeting room and took Isabell to our room for some quiet time and much-needed sleep. Before Bev moved our new daughter downstairs, however, Isabell tasted her.
Tasting is when a baby puts his or her mouth on a parent for a good lick, and it’s a considered sign of bonding. During a first meeting between a baby and adoptive parents, however, tasting is considered rare. But if you look at the photos of our meeting day, Isabell is clearly sneaking in a taste or two.
Later, when Bev and I finally tried to wrap our minds around the day’s events, Bev admitted that she had no idea what she was doing, and she couldn’t figure out why anyone would just hand us a baby. But I know Isabell knew why we were there.
By our second day of parenthood, Isabell and Bev were inseparable. Where Bev went, Isabell went. That includes the bathroom. And if the kid had any doubt about the identity of Mom, she never showed it.
Since those first days, I’ve watched as my wife of more than 10 years has blossomed into more than just the woman I’ve known. And even though Bev might tell you that she found the transition from a woman to mom strange, when you look at how much her daughter loves her and how the two women in my life interact, It’s obvious that Bev was meant to be a mother as sure as Isabell was meant to be her daughter.
That is a powerful thought for Mothers Day, this Sunday, Bev’s first.
As for dad, he’s still dazed but happy.
Oh, so happy.
Columnist Andrew Gmerek writes a regular Friday column for the Summit Daily News.
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