Monday, May 20, 2002

A NEW FATHER'S LOVE -- AND LOATHING: I've seen my husband's reaction to being awakened by a screaming baby for the nth night in a row (murderous looks, dark mutterings), and I've heard him confess that it's not so difficult to imagine doing horrible things to little babies when he's being screamed at at two o'clock in the morning after many sleepless nights. So I read Michael Lewis' latest installment -- "Infanticide to Infatuation: Why daddies don't kill their babies" -- with a lot of interest and understanding. Lewis' point isn't that new fathers are dangerous to their children, just that they have to work harder -- and need the mother's help -- to overcome the screaming, puking, and pooping and love their babies. After all, fathers haven't formed the emotional bonds that develop from carrying a child for nine months in the womb, so they start off with a disadvantage. Sometimes parents, and especially fathers, just have to muddle through and do what needs to be done until those emotional bonds can form; in the meantime, the occasional thought of throttling that screaming bundle of angst crosses the mind, although it's quickly suppressed. I think Lewis perfectly captures the loathing and love many fathers have for their newborns.

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