You know the familiar, almost clichéd account: baby is born. Father holds the child up to the light like Simba in "The Lion King". And in that magical moment, the swinging married bachelor or the career-minded egomaniac comes to the sudden realisation that he is now the father of a child?
I didn't have that. Somehow the nine months leading of pregnancy leading up to her birth made fatherhood a gradual, rather than sudden, process. Even after her birth Faith and I were sort of detatched, unsure why the super-strong maternal / paternal feelings that were supposed to now exist in us weren't really there. Anne was a baby to be fed and put to bed. A baby that kept us awake at night.
This may sound cruel, but I'll confess that there have been nights that were particularly difficult, to the point I felt a little trapped by the immensity of bringing her up; that I'd never know freedom again.
I had a taste of freedom today. Anne was taken away from me.
It tasted bitter.I needed some time to do some preliminary research on some projects I had been sitting on, so arrangements were made for Anne to be brought over to my parents', where they'd mind her for the day.
Dad drove the car over, Auntie Lyn came out, took Anne from my arms, and they drove off, with Anne still looking out the window.
My heart broke into a zillion pieces right there on the side of the road. It felt like I let my baby down; like I didn't have a sufficient explanation why she was going and I was staying.
I came home to an empty house. Baby toys strewn all over the floor, and the little mat she sleeps on in the day. Everything where they usually were, except her. No sound of her fussing, wanting to be spoken to or carried. It was as if death himself had walked through this place and sucked all sunshine and joy from it.
I now know that I am a father to the most beautiful girl. This afternoon, when Anne wasn't home, it dawned on me that the cost of parenting, which I lament about often enough, is miniscule compared to the very innate joy it brings. In some sense, I never thought of myself as a father, but more as a provider, a servant of sorts.
Today I realised that fatherhood isn't just about the giving. It is a blessing given by God, to be enjoyed and cherished.
I love you, Anne. Every single baby-fattish baby-smelling inch of you.

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