This is an old piece that went around via emails way back when, long before the social web made things go viral easily. I was not a parent back then but I never forgot it and sure enough it was extremely poignant and totally true when I became a dad and then experienced having a second child. No one prepares you for all of the emotions that come with adding to your family. Sure there’s the joy and excitement that comes with the birth of any baby but I did not realize the mixed emotions that comes with having to share your love and more importantly your precious time with those you love and the new baby. This piece captures the anguish that comes part and parcel with building a family. Ultimately, the end result is usually good and everyone adjusts to the life changing shifts but it’s a long slow transition filled with doubt and confusion as everyone tries to handle their new roles.
It’s never easier with each child either. Don’t be fooled. Sure, you are not as shocked and taken aback by the tsunami of emotions as the first time but it’s still a difficult process and it still hurts until the transition is complete. You still miss the days when you had more time for those you have to steal time from in order to nurture and love the new born. Thus the circle of life.
I’ve also realized that no one’s ever talked about these same feelings that we men feel when we become fathers. Perhaps it’s because we feel a little ashamed for being so selfish and so needy, things men are taught not to ever be. Truth be told, it’s very difficult for men to accept the cold harsh reality that we will never again be the center of our lover’s universe because our child will be the sun that we orbit from that moment forward. Our roles change instantly to protectors and nurturers. Yes, we can eventually arrange for date nights and babysitters but all we do is worry about the child and whether or not we screened the temporary guardian well enough (especially if it’s a family member). You wind up talking about what your child did most of the time and cut the evenings short in order to rush back to them. As they get older you can have more focused couple time but as I said before things will never be the same as when the world was just the two of you…in your couple bubble.
However, as this wonderful piece reveals, you realize that it’s not merely the end of your original relationship but the dawning of a new and deeper stage where your family becomes three, four or more. You learn that there isn’t a finite amount of love to go around; you learn that love is indeed infinite and there’s always plenty to go around. We adapt and evolve and find ways to make time for everyone. All time becomes quality time because it’s filled with love.
I walk along holding your 2-year-old hand, basking in the glow of our magical relationship.
Suddenly I feel a kick from within, as if to remind me that our time alone is limited.
And I wonder, how could I love another child as I love you?
Then she is born, and I watch you.
I watch as the pain you feel at having to share me as you have never shared me before.
I hear you telling me in your own way, “Please love only me” and I hear myself telling you in mine “I can’t”.
Knowing in fact that I never can again.
You cry, I cry with you.
I almost see our baby as an intruder on the precious relationship we once shared.
A relationship we can never have again.
But then, barely noticing, I find myself attached to that new being, and feeling almost guilty.
I’m afraid to let you see me enjoying her — as though I am betraying you.
But then I notice your resentment change, first to curiosity, then to protectiveness, finally to genuine affection.
More days pass, and we are settling into a new routine.
The memory of days with just the two of us is fading fast.
But something is replacing those wonderful times we shared, just us two.
There are new times — only now we are three.
I watch the love between you grow, the way you look at each other, touch each other.
I watch how she adores you, as I have for so long.
I see how excited you are by each of her new accomplishments.
I begin to realize that I haven’t taken something from you, I’ve given something to you.
I notice that I am no longer afraid to share my love openly with both of you.
I find that my love for each of you is as different as you are, but equally strong.
And my question is finally answered to my amazement.
Yes, I can love another child as much as I love you, only differently.
And although I realize that you may have to share my time, I know you’ll never share my love.
There’s enough of that for both of you — you each have your own supply.
I love you both and I thank you both for blessing my life.