That sweet goofy grin and vulnerable mouth, those big, strong hands cradling that precious little baby—new dads make my wees go neak. I mean, my knees go weak.
Perhaps it's a matter of personal history. One of my favorite family pictures is of my father, wintry Wisconsin snow piled high around him, smiling and wearing 4-month-old me in a backpack. My little face peeks between the layers of hats, jackets, and blankets packed around me. I'm not that old, but this was in the days before Gerry Packs, slings, Snuglis, and all the other baby carriers that make our present-day parental lives comfortable.
Dad carried me on his back in an old army pack stuffed halfway full of towels, with leg holes cut out so my short stubbies could swing freely. He'd bundle me up and walk the streets of Madison during the coldest winter in 40 years, in an era when fathers didn't usually care for babies. Our family moved briefly to Vancouver that next summer, and Dad learned that city with me on his back. And then we moved to San Francisco when I was almost one. My earliest memories involve riding on his shoulders down the block to the candy store, dripping ice cream in his hair at Playland-at-the-Beach, and holding his pinkie as we crossed the street on errands to Cliff's Hardware store.
The Appeal of Fathers
Flash forward. My husband Bill had two kids long before he met me, and he was an equal partner in raising them, as he is now, with our daughter, Annie. Part of what so endeared me to him when we met, those years ago, was the importance he placed on his fathering. "I am a father," he'd say. "It's who I am." And it was Bill who taught me how to change a diaper. Now, seeing Annie with her daddy is one of my greatest pleasures—listening in on them during bedtime stories, watching Bill teach her how to swim...
Is there something Freudian here?
My passion goes far beyond my father and my husband. I enjoy watching all fathers with their kids, but it's the new dads that knock me out with their sexiness. Can you resist? Picture them, they must be there in your community too, pushing strollers, bearing their little offspring on their strong backs, gruffly and tenderly wiping crumbs or spit up off small fleshy chins. Fathers and babies.