Even at the worst of times—and there are plenty—I ask what more a man could want from life than to be the father of three boys such as our three boys. And yet even paternal ardor has apartness wound into it. I know that I feel most fully myself when I am cycling solo through the thronged city, or playing electric guitar into headphones late at night, or popping into a gallery to look at photographs, or sitting alone writing, as I am doing now. On some level, I know, and I think our sons know, that I am something less than my full self as a father.
Every healthy person is in part a person apart. Apart is where, for some of us, art is made
~ From the moving "Esme Can Read":
I have always known in my heart that Esmé understands so much of what goes on around her, but between the her lack of speech, her failing limbs and her unusual neurological activity, it is very difficult to find ways to draw her out. I have no clear idea of how my daughter perceives the world, except for the stories I tell myself about what I see in her eyes — that spark of excitement, recognition and curiosity. What I know about her world I know only obliquely. I know that if the “The Muppet Movie” soundtrack doesn’t take her out of a funk, she is really very sick. I know that she likes it when we tell the Yo Gabba Gabba! band on TV that Ezzy should be in their band, a statement that is always met with loud clapping and smiles. By her generous belly laugh I know that she loves being kissed and tickled.
I also know my daughter in a deeply primal way that is usually contained to the early newborn stages of parenting. We are so hopelessly intertwined emotionally and physically, existing together in the spaces between words — in the world of things that are felt deeply and understood in their entirety without ever being spoken aloud.~ It's funny that this is the take away from the study: "Girls With Working Moms May Do Better When They Grow Up." ("Better" is of course evaluated by success at work.) I actually think the good part is buried:
these boys, when they grew up, did spend more time "caring for family members" than men who came from households with moms who stayed home full-time.~ Gave me a chuckle, from the obituary of the guy who invented pink plastic lawn ornament flamingos:
"Then Donald suggested I make our bottom halves match, too, so we started amassing a whole wardrobe of clothes," she told the newspaper. "Initially we matched only at weekends, but as I grew adept at making more complex garments, such as jackets, sweaters and coats, we decided to go full-time with our identical look. We never needed to go clothes shopping again."