My Father Myself
Originally posted in Granta. The entire article is available to subscribers here.
There is a distance to fatherhood that isn’t part of motherhood. In our earliest days, fathers are necessarily a step away. We don’t have an inter-uterine life with our fathers, aren’t expelled from their bodies in birth, don’t nurse at their breasts. Even though our infancies are forgotten, the stamp of those days remains in us, the ﬁrst exchanges between mother and baby, the back and forth, the rocking, soothing, the holding and looking. Fathers, on the other hand, enter the stage from elsewhere. More exciting than pacifying, they often bring with them rousing games and rough and tumble play. I vividly recall my own baby’s joyous face as she straddled her father’s jumping knee. He regularly turned her into ‘Sophie Cowgirl’, and the two took wild rides together as my husband provided the shoot-’em-up sound effects.