I think my husband, Yancy, expected Gus to come out of the womb kicking a soccer ball and on some level, I did too. When you think about and imagine children, that’s just it. You imagine children. You don’t really think about an infant who initially doesn’t do much of anything except eat, sleep, cry, and poop. You think about baseball games and Christmases. You think about them taking their first few steps and how you will prepare them for kindergarten. You think about how you will play together, laughing together, vacations you will take, memories you will make, and all of the ways you will show them you love them.
Shortly after Gus was born, Yancy and I were both surprised at how little he wanted to do with Yancy. He almost always cried whenever Yancy held him. If he was upset, there was nothing Yancy could do to comfort him. There were many times that Gus cried harder when I handed him off to Yancy. I can’t count the number of times Yancy proclaimed, “He doesn’t like me.” It never got easier to hear him say it. My heart broke every time. He had such high expectations and not one had come close to being met. He was just as in love with Gus and excited for his arrival as me.
He assured me it didn’t bother him, but we both knew he was lying. It was just too painful to acknowledge. Instead of getting more comfortable, he got more and more awkward holding him as Gus writhed and kicked against him. I would try to help, show him how to hold him differently, or how to sway which only resulted in making Yancy angry. He’d hand him back to me, “He just doesn’t even want to be on me.”
As much as I didn’t want this to be true, it was. Gus really just wanted me. He didn’t want to be bothered with anyone else. He wanted to be right next to me and my breasts. If he wasn’t on them, he wanted to be snuggled close to them. I was where he was the most content. We didn’t know then how things would change over the next few months and that it didn’t mean Yancy and Gus would never be able to connect with each other. It just meant Gus was an infant who was happiest next to his mom.
We kept trying to treat Gus like a kid and kept being disappointed whenever he responded like an infant. For example, when he was eight weeks old we decided it was a good idea to take him to see the Christmas lights a few days before Christmas. It was freezing and we argued the entire time about how many blankets he should be wrapped in. I kept wrapping him up and Yancy kept unwrapping him. We were engaged in blanket tug of war the entire time. Gus could have cared less about the Christmas lights. In fact, they were annoying and over stimulating to him which meant he cried on and off for the entire time. We kept having to scurry to the car to nurse him. He was completely miserable, but we were determined to start a family tradition. There were a lot of families with children viewing the lights, but we were the only ones walking Candy Cane Lane that evening with an infant.
Today is so dramatically different than those early days. Gus adores Yancy and looks at him like he is a real life superhero. I’m not sure it’s possible for a boy to be more in love with their dad. We went to Candy Cane Lane this year again and it was an absolute blast. We searched for Santa Claus, marveled at all of the lights, and drank hot chocolate. We giggled, laughed, and joked with each other. These days parenting resembles what we had first envisioned for parenting. It just took some time to get here.