“I don’t think I love her. Do I really feel that? Is that possible? She hasn’t even done anything to me yet” spluttered Matthew to Amber with a mix of panic and disbelief in his voice. At just hours old, our daughter, Zala Mateja, had spent a continuous hour in Matthew’s arms allowing Amber to nap and Matthew to process. And then it hit him – the lack of love!
Worst. Dad. Ever.
Returning to her nap, Amber left Matthew to wrestle with his love-less realization. Another solid hour of napping / grappling with inner turmoil and self-loathing later, Matthew was struck by another, more soothing, realization – this is what love feels like without all of the fear, unknown, terror, and low-grade panic that accompanies the first child. In the absence of 2.6 billion emotions bouncing around inside his feeler, Matthew had mistaken this lack of chaos to be an absence of love. Not so. In that chair, with our little bug resting in his arms, Matthew experienced a new depth of love free from all of the fear of the unknown that accompanied our first child (admittedly, there was, and still is, some low-grade panic as we learn how to parent at a 1:1 ratio).
A quiet force in her own right, Amber’s Grandma once told us that love for a child is like no other. Parents we love because we need them. Spouses we learn to love. A child simply exists and we could not love them more. Our hearts were already so full of love – love of life, of God, of each other, of Daxon, of friends, of family, of travel, of food – and yet, in a single moment our hearts, much like that of the Grinch, grew two sizes. It’s like a well where the water line never dipped, but the depth of the well doubled. She’s done nothing other than exist (though, she does grunt in her sleep which is oddly cute) and we love her.
We love our daughter – yes, both of us.