Today is the last day of my paternity leave and, like last time, a day of surprising sadness. It's not that Sunday night, wouldn't it be great if tomorrow was Sunday so I could have more time off kind of feeling. It's not even like the last day of a vacation, thinking back on how nice the trip/holiday was and wishing that it could have lasted longer, because no matter how nice the vacation, eventually one would miss home, maybe even long for some routine or downtime. Instead this time off has reminded me of all the normal, day-to-day stuff I'm missing out on when I'm at work every day.
In the lives of a two- and four-year-old, there are so many subtleties of behavior and personality that might never be seen or easily overlooked during a handful of weekday hours and weekends together. Given their pace of development, by the next time one is available to notice they could already be gone. In the course of a week, there could be a hundred moments so fleeting that one wouldn't remember them in a month but that, in that moment, can cause a heart to swell up and feel like it could burst. There's the way Ivan's face flushes when he's scared and excited by a movie, the tone of voice he uses when retelling a fond memory, the inflections in his words that let you know that he just wants to be included, and the way his face beams when he knows you're proud of him. There's the extra strength in the hug that you get from Veronika when you drop her off and pick her up from preschool, the way she carries herself a little differently with freshly painted nails, the gentle way she holds her baby brother, and the pride in her voice and on her face when he's on her mind. There's also this new one, whose little chest continues to quickly rise and fall as he sleeps despite the fact that I can't get my mind around him actually having shown up.
There's a part of me that can't reconcile that I have been given such a precious gift without the time or ability to fully appreciate it. I have no doubt that being a stay-at-home parent is difficult, probably more difficult than any job I will ever have—I believe that and will continue to write it in every Mother's Day card until the end of time—but it is also a privilege, to be a witness to the smallest details of these miraculous young lives, to have an opportunity to understand them like no one else. After a week of doing just that, that's exactly how I feel—privileged.May 14, 2008
I am more amazed with Dinka every time I see her go through labor and she keeps getting better. If there was some kind of Academy Awards for giving birth, we would definitely be nominated in several categories this year. Dinka and Nikola are resting happily at our heavenly birth center, waiting for me to bring the rest of the family to see him and deliver breakfast. And I do not want to keep my family waiting.May 08, 2008 | Comments (12)