One of the things about gardening that makes it so alluring, so relaxing is the consistency of expected results. You take the seeds left over from a piece of fruit, plant them in the ground, care for them, and wait.
Knowing that with your care they will always grow into something more.
And one day that plant will return to you fruits, from which it is possible to start the cycle over again. Over and over. Civilization itself was built on the back of this repeated promise.
But yet, so few things in life are as clear and predictable as gardening. And human life does not promise to return anything to the gardener.
All throughout Penny’s pregnancy I was that typical worrying dad-to-be. “Don’t lift that.” “Do you want to sit?” “Are you okay?”
“Are you sure you’re not in labor?”
“Really, that’s just a stomach ache? Are you 100% positive?”
I wasn’t just worried for Penny, although that was a large part of it. Nor was it just for the unborn baby. But I was worried about myself. Would I, could I be a good father? I had struggled to forge a connection with Calvin from the first day that I met him.
But I could always write that off because he was distant, because he wasn’t my son, because Wolfgang, during those odd moments he decided to actually play the role of father, put negative ideas about me into his head. But I always knew that I was part of the problem.
Awkward and fumbling, I would go through the motions of what I thought a dad should be, but Calvin’s stare of disdain told me my sincerity wasn’t believable.
And when his fear of losing his mother’s attention to younger siblings manifested itself into anger it was Penny who had to talk to him.
“You know you’ll always be my oldest, right?”
“Yeah, but so…”
“So that means you’ll have a special place in my heart, no matter what.”
“So I’ll always be your favorite!?”
“A mother should never have favorites. But you’ll always be special.”
The words seemed so simple, and said with no more sincerity than I would tell Calvin that having a new brother or sister didn’t mean anything would change. But Penny’s words put a reassured smile onto Calvin’s face, while mine only brought about a grimace and disappointment.
When I felt her in my arms for the first time…
…my daughter, Scarlett….
… my fears subsided. There was a connection. Somehow. Already. There was a connection with this newborn baby. And I knew that all the concerns I had about being too distant, not loving my child enough, not knowing how to be a loving father, were gone.
You’d think I would have been used that by now. But I guess the third times the charm.