Before I had my first child, one of my biggest fears was taking him to the bathroom at a sporting event. While other men worried about midnight feedings and dropping a baby on his head, I fretted over a trip to one of the satellite offices of Germ Industries.
I should give up much of myself to help nurture and feed the baby while juggling the management of the older kids. I've done it and will willingly do it again. I'm a team player and I do love bonding with my babies. But I'm in a near state of panic about losing my nookie for the foreseeable future.
To help ease my kids into a leaner, meaner daddy, I pull out a favorite children's book called Beryl's Box. This out-of-print gem, written by Lisa Taylor and illustrated by Penny Dann, tells the story of Penelope, a girl with a bedroom stocked to the gills with toys.
Two years ago, I was getting a little woozy as I stared at the proof pages of a magazine I was editing. It was 4am. I had phoned my wife five times that night, promising to come home soon with each call.
As a twelve-year-old in 1978, I saw Superman and immediately went home to work out with my long unused barbell set. I wanted big muscles, a pretty girl, and the admiration of the world, just like that guy with the big "S" on his chest.
I've had to settle for being more like the mild-mannered writer, Clark Kent, though I did manage to nab a pretty girl for a wife. More importantly, unlike the fine actor who made Superman so real, I've been fortunate to walk and breathe without assistance.
Somewhere in the traffic jam of the last year, I lost control of my favorite vehicle of parent-child bonding: Making my kids laugh. I became so wrapped up in the relentless responsibilities of life that my funny bone resembled a car wreck.
By helping your children through their own fears of disaster, you will meet one of the great tests of parenthood. Bear in mind that if all you do is tell them that you will protect them with everything in your power, you will be doing very well by your children.
I will nurture and teach you. But, as with your brothers, I intend to help you thrive in an often-difficult society. That's why your mommy and I have named you Ari, which means "lion." It's our hope that you will grow strong and pounce on every opportunity to do well for yourself and others.
Since you do want to make the transition to the family portion of your day, try making a list of everything you need to do for work that night or the next day before you leave the office. This puts a summary on the day so you can start thinking about the home hours.
I'm using baby sign language for the word "more." Ari, who's all of seven months, squints at me, organic bananas and oatmeal caked on his face like a blonde five o'clock shadow. He seems to be saying, if a baby could imitate Clint Eastwood, "I don't get your meaning, compadre."