I was always a fan of science. I studied chemistry in college. My days were filled with bonds; hydrogen, covalent and ionic bonds. A bond was something natural, powerful and above all: stable. For that reason, the concept of a bond outside of chemistry was never one that I truly understood.
My parents separated when I was a young child. I don't remember a time when my family was bound together. My dad was always present and would never be called a “dead beat” by any definition of the word, but I would also not call our relationship a bond, because it lacked the properties of a bond as I understood them. My life as a kid always felt like it could change in a heartbeat. I could be with my mom one week and in with my dad the next. Things were always in motion. New school, new house, new step dad, new step mom.
I never felt the strong kind of bond I knew existed between humans until my oldest daughter was born. Which I know is horrible to say because my wife and I had been married for nearly a year by that time, but it was my baby girl who taught me first. When I first felt her fall asleep, held to my chest as I watched my wife finally get some rest after an exhausting labor, that's when I felt it.
This bond was powerful. I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of it all. Not only was I a husband but I was a father. The force of that understanding is almost enough to knock a person to the ground. I would feel every tear she cried as if it were my own. Every scraped knee would make me wince. I suddenly knew a fear that until that point I could never fathom, and a joy that, until that point, didn't exist.
This bond was natural. I know it's not always this way, but as soon as I held her every protective instinct I didn't know I had became real. I hadn't prepared for her the way some people do. I was a young dad, so I didn't take any classes or read any books. But when my newborn baby girl cried to be held, even through the tired and the unshowered haze of new parenthood, it was instinct to hold her.
This bond was stable. Unlike any love I’d know until then, my family was suddenly a bond that could not be broken. Just as an atom cannot be split without irreparable damage, so I cannot be removed from my wife and my children without the world coming to an end.
My first baby, my second, my third and my fourth: all bonded to me for life. Held to my chest from the day they are infants until the day they are ready to walk on their own in this world. As I’ve taken each of them out into the world to explore and see new things, I’ve been there, just a head nod away. Feeling their heart beats when they get excited, and hearing their little whispers as they learn to narrate their worlds. I’m there. This bond I have with my children is powerful, it's natural and its stable. All the days of my life.