We're fast approaching Dad's comfort zone of toddlerhood...well, senior infancy. Three months in and Maggie wants to hang out with me, or at least doesn't spend all her time in my arms wishing I had a breast or two. She's happy. She smiles. We talk...a lot. If it weren't for the fact that 45 minutes of carrying her around in the only position that she seems to let me carry her in...as though I'm gingerly using both hands to carry a tray of drinks around the room...twists my shoulder and back into a knot, we're good. In the past few weeks she's decided that it's not jsut women who can hold her close to their chest, or on their shoulder. She liked breasts, not pectoral muscles, so I suppose if you were a man with the former you'd be okay to hold her as you like, but anyone with any semblance of man chest, nope. She wanted soft and squidgy, not flat and consistently unshaky. But of course, if you shake, you're probably fine. From day 1 she's been a bit discerning.
Maggie is more aware, and eager to interact now. She's talkative, and playful. She does the dishes. Three months is the line in the sand where everything starts to change...three months or right around there. Before that...ugh. I don't dole out Dad advice to friends 'cause, you know, who the hell am I and what the hell do I know. My kid is my kid and your kid is yours...they're different, so are our houses, and grandparents and beliefs and etc...endless etc... but I will say this to my friends who are expecting for the first time...good buddies like Dustin and Scotty...three months. Give it three months before you give up all hope of ever meaning anything to your infant. It will be different if you're bottle feeding, but if Mommy and baby are joined mouth to mammary for those first three months, you're going to feel useless, unnecessary, and more closely like a really incompetent maid. You're not just magically going to like doing dishes or picking up around the house, nor are you just creatively going to get good at it. In fact, very many of those household tasks you'll still very likely shirk if you shirked them before, but you'll pick up the slack where you can...I, without hesitation, bought a brand new washer and dryer, because the old ones confused me and sucked. You'll do the same. I cooked more. I picked up more. I offered to do dishes and sometimes did, but June maintained that doing the dishes while I held a marginally calm and cooing baby was a break. Blah blah blah...the basics of it is that you will feel an unbearable but undeniable feeling of less value. You will instantly become a third, or in this case for us, fourth class citizenship in your own home. You won't matter. Of course, you're wife loves you and you matter to her, and in a million very unsexy, uncelebrated ways you'll matter, but you won't get to start, and you won't get to take the big shot. You won't get in on the power play or penalty kill. You won't have any role in the big game ending play. You'll wave your towel from the bench and be happy just to be on the team. That's hard.
Three months...after three months or so you can become Ray Allen in Miami, or more accurately a '06-'07 Luke Walton. After three months you get to really start contributing. Oh, you'll still be required to wait for your time, and to pass the ball more than you shoot, and to sprint back on defense, and sprint back on offense, and maybe never touch the ball before you sit down again, but you get to play alongside Kobe and hope that when it's all said and done you get a ring. After three months you start to feel a part of the team.
Maggie falls asleep on me now, and she can sit on my lap and hang out for giant stretches of relaxing and confident time. She searches the room for me when she hears my voice, and best of all, she smiles when she sees me. Three months isn't that long to wait...oh, it'll feel like it, but you'll be sprinting back on defense before you know it.