We are 95% on the name but I’m going to leave that particular conversation to bonnie when she gets near a computer.

Mother is well… very well actually. The labour was 16 1/2 hours… but manageable, and, in places, alot of fun. Our little girl is perfect, with a clean bill of health and the appropriate dark hair. :)

cheers all… and thanks for all the wellwishes.

my father has an ice-skating rink on the pond by his house this winter.

there is a Rockwell kind of veneer over this photo for me…this photo of my family on skates, taking by my dad on a sunny Sunday afternoon. a good afternoon. the ice was thick, and my skates clopped against it with that wintry schink-schink sound that’s almost like knives being sharpened, but happier. there were friendly family dogs on the banks of the pond, cavorting. we all took turns pulling Oscar in his little red sled. the photo may not show it, but there was much laughing. and whinging about sore feet.

we were like a full-page spread right out of a Canadian homemakers’ magazine, for gods’ sake.

and yet…there is no need break out the hot chocolate and gag on it, friends. the Rockwell bit is just a veneer, and part of me feels brittle and cheap even presenting the photo and its outdoorsy, clannish kitsch as a reflection of my life. i keep looking at it, liking it, trying to figure out what to make of it…trying to find a place for it, and relate to it on a level deeper than that of a friendly photo shoot. because this was no recreation of a childhood memory, for me, lived out in colour again for O’s sake. this was my childhood fantasy.

Oscar turned ten months old the other day. by the time i’d reached that venerable age, my father had left. not only left my mother and i, but left the province…and gone as far as he reasonably could while still staying technically in Canada. he took a nineteen-year old who happened to share my first name and who had previously been my babysitter along with him, which i suppose – this fine, insular island being what it is – made living closer somewhat inconvenient. they married when the divorce came through. they spent the next three decades in the Northwest Territories, coming home only in the summers. then, ten years after i’d grown up and moved away, they came back.

my father never saw me on skates until i was twenty-seven years old.

and all this winter, as i’ve been watching Oscar grow and (gypsy threats aside) bloom into a clever, watchful, laughing little personality, a small, wounded voice inside of me has been sitting in a corner, asking “how could he leave me that far behind, when i was small like this?” i see Oscar light up like a pageant contestant whenever Dave comes home from work, and, bewildered at how anyone could walk away from such blatant worship, that same little voice squeaks “what was wrong with me?”

i know better, of course. i’ve actually tried to stamp on the little voice, quite firmly, but only succeeded in making me feel sorry for it…ermmm….myself. and i resent that. i’m blown away by this vulnerability, this uncertainty. i’ve been told since i was small that the divorce was in no way a reflection on me, and i genuinely believe it. i’ve met both my parents. i’ve understood for twenty-odd years that the two of them, however civil, were no more meant to live together than they were to fly. i thought i’d worked through most of my baggage a long time ago.

then i had my own child, and lo, the floodgates of sadness came crashing open, apparently. because all the things that i am so fucking thrilled to share with Oscar, like his first Christmas, and his first steps, and his first time on skates (okay, i project) are things that i did without my father. i don’t believe in staying together for the kids. but really…three thousand miles away, eleven months of the year?

i know, petty problems. i don’t like feeling angry and wounded and childish. i don’t like the fact that i feel hurt…and in my hurt i feel embarrassed, too, like the statute of limitations has passed for airing of this particular load of laundry. but i don’t like the way that i feel small whenever i consider Oscar’s smallness, either. i feel protective of the child that i was. it’s true that when a child’s parents divorce before she can remember, there’s no specific image of family unity to grieve…those images all simply become veneered Rockwell paintings, part of a pop culture with no particularly relation to her own identity. but finding myself in the picture, now, with my own child, and particularly with my father behind the lens…ouch. that stings, and confuses.

i like my father, a lot. i love him, as well, and nurtured a little-girl crush on him from afar for years. but as an adult, i like him, wryly, and with a special eagerness i have no words for and no way of expressing to him except in the way i still become self-conscious around him, like a hopeful schoolkid. we don’t see each other much…distance is a habit i at least don’t seem to know how to break, any more, even when we’re close geographically.

but here we are, all in the picture on a Sunday afternoon. dark things lurk beneath this ice.

we drove to New Brunswick last night to Oscar’s grandparents’ house. and the whole length of the four hour car trip (five when you count the hour spent breastfeeding him in a gas station parking lot), we played music. not kid music, though we’ve been given some wonderful children’s CDs. our music. i confess – we are actively trying to brainwash his tiny eardrums.

Oscar does not come from what one would call musical stock. to my great sorrow, i am as tone-deaf as a stump. at my fifth grade provincial music festival, my choir teacher suggested that rather than sing out loud, i merely mouth along with the melody so no one else would be thrown off key by my warbling drone. Dave’s not much better. he does occasionally channel a great Debbie Harry falsetto, but is otherwise nearly as musically challenged as i. yet we love songs. i know the words to everything. and while we secretly hope that Oscar is carrying some recessive “carry that tune” genes somewhere in his makeup, if not, we still want to expose him to the joy that music can bring even to the tuneless. so we’ve been constructing a soundtrack – a musical primer – for his edification.

i believe that – if you listen to the words – music can teach all you need to know about the human condition. and i also believe that the music a person learns early on – the music eventually remembered from childhood, no matter if it matches later tastes or not – will shape that person’s sense of not only what music can be, but what it means to be human. so Oscar can get down with his bad self on gangsta rap and pop fluff later, if he wants to, should those genres mysteriously thrive. but for now, he’s being groomed into a groovy little folkie, with bardic ballads and funky sounds all around. i secretly believe this may be the best way to pass on wisdom about life and love and the universe and everything: subliminally, with a pleasant back beat.

this theory comes straight from my own experience. my poor mother wonders how, with her fine upstanding example as model, i grew up to be such an amoral vagrant. i barely watched TV as a kid, and i read only Anne of Green Gables and The Velveteen Rabbit and other umimpeachable classics of children’s literature. however, the old stereo in our apartment got a lot of use throughout my youngest years, and i blame Kris Kristofferson for my adult ambivalence about social and moral conventions. in kindergarten, i got lost at Kmart. thinking my mother would hear me and find me if i sang – even then i sensed my voice was…uh…attention-getting – i wandered blindly through the aisles, belting out my favourites. i was eventually located in the menswear section giving an offkey rendition of “Help Me Make it Through the Night.” i thought it was written for Kristofferson’s teddy bear.

i’m hoping by the time Oscar reaches that age, he can wow the Kmart shoppers with all umpteen verses of Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue”. or maybe a little Leonard Cohen. at the very least, i hope he learns that beauty and joy and sorrow have a place in all human lives, and are wonderful to express in song. even if that song comes out a little flat.

to all who have given birth, been given birth to, or been present for the entry of a new person into the world…an invite.

we’re getting back in the webcasting saddle (ouch!) for Mother’s Day.

Sunday, May 14th, at 7pm Atlantic time (6pm EST, 10pm GST).

topic – birth. labour, becoming a parent, the whole shebang. guests wanted – if you have a birth story to share, you’re most welcome. skype cribchronicles to join the show. tune in here to listen, or to download later.

Oscar will make a guest appearance. :)

It’s been a wild couple of days, most of which were spent in the hospital with Bonnie and Oscar, and I’m sitting here, at 11:11pm wondering what exactly I’m supposed to be doing with myself. Strange for a dad to come home and leave his family in the hospital… makes me wonder if I shouldn’t be doing my own crib chronicles…

She’s doing great. One more proof of just how fantastic a person she really is; like i needed any… He’s doing well. Still a few steps to go before we can take him home, he was born at 36 weeks, and not ‘fully cooked’. But I’ll send out the link to a couple of photos tonight, and let bonnie post her own blog post in a couple of days when she gets out of the hospital.

To Oscar Charles Stewart Cormier. Welcome.

To bon. no words suit. and, as much as this might surprise, we’ve never needed them to explain what things mean to us, nor do we now.

For myself. I’m a very, very lucky man.