I drop the boys off at day-care. Sometimes one of them, sometimes both of them cry. They’re so small. It's worse when they just say or wave "bye". I can't get used to it. It's better if something or someone catches their attention and they're gone on some adventure, with Daddy forgotten. Being “Dad” though, I tough it out, I get in my car, I drive to the office, I look at their pictures.
And I feel something I haven’t felt in a long while. Something in the pit of my stomach. I miss the boys, mere seconds after I leave them, which is insane! They’ve been driving me nuts all night and all morning. I could really use a break. I think about them all day and I leave early to pick them up.
I remember this feeling. I’m “in love.” Understand: I barely remember my first kiss. (Everyone feels compelled to say “It was summer...” yeah, baby, it sure was.) And some part of you stores the relevant statistics: I was 14, she was 12. Summer camp, inside a loop on the wide and slow Susquehanna river: it’s green, it’s humid, supervision is lazy with the heat and there are places to hide. We were so cute. She had long straight blonde hair, I had long curly hair. It didn't go very far, but it was more than enough.
That was twenty-nine years ago. Now I'm a geezer Dad: I'm getting a very late start at this parenthood thing. Time hasn’t been kind. I have that dried-out look you get from smoking far too many cigarettes, and worry-lines across my forehead. Loss, betrayal, death. But part of me can still be “in love”. I’m not “in love” with the mother of my children, not “in love” with her in that kind of stupid way you love your first girlfriend. Being “in love” isn’t respect. Women are who they are, not who you want them to be. “In love” is not lust or like, but an obsession that knows no disappointment, a love that, underneath it all, is self-love. The object of your affections is not really known to you, not yet. You fill your ignorance with hopes and dreams.
And (surprise!) I'm "in love" with my sons. At some conscious level I know they will wear me out, break me down, break my heart ... someday, but not yet.