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Sunday, 25 March 2001

Paternal Instincts: Why I Love My Children's Father

Written by  Sara Eisen

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I am - was - a huge George Clooney fan. I used to call my husband in to watch Dr. Ross, because something this perfect had to be shared with a loved one.

Until one day last year, when Jay Leno hosted Clooney on his show. Some of you may remember the episode. George was featured right before a group of quadruplet six-year-old girls. During the girls' interview, Clooney, as leading guest, remained onstage.

I will never forget what he did when the giggly pink sisters first scrambled to sit themselves down: he very purposefully moved his chair WAY over, eyeing the noisy children suspiciously. As if these four little girls were going to eat him.

And he made a number of remarks, faces and gestures throughout Leno's deft (and warm) interview with the quads that made it clear: for all of his pediatric posturing as Dr. Ross, George was a man who was frightened to death of kids.

That day, I fell out of crush with George Clooney.

I also realized - maybe for the first time on an entirely conscious level - one very major thing that made me fall - and makes me stay - in love with my husband:

My husband loves children. He loves being a father.

His paternal side colors everything he does.

Like in the "old days", when he used to read his law books, in soothing tones, to the baby. He had to study for the Bar, but he wanted to read to the baby, too.

Now that I was thinking about it, I remembered what he had said during one memorable "Ultimate Relationship Talk." When the word "marriage" came up, he exclaimed: "Marriage? You mean - - Breakfast? Dinner? Diapers?"

That was marriage, to him, even then. The day-to-day family stuff.

He is nothing if not a realist.

But, I think, he is also a romantic.

In the sense that the ordinary "laundry stuff" is a togetherness that we want to share. In the sense that giving a baby medicine and picking out clothes for a five-year-old would be dim chores, except that they are part of the fabric that weaves us together.

I watch him joke around with our toddler and I think: Who is having a better time? The baby, or my husband? It's hard to tell. The baby gets that.

I watch him talk philosophy with our precocious kindergartener, and I think: Who is expanding who? My husband is so open, so fluid, with him, that my son is probably asking himself that same question. And smiling inside.

I should point out that my husband has a demanding job that keeps him away from home most evenings, and he does the majority of his fathering by phone or on weekends.

And yet, I am not hung up on the quantity of time he does or doesn't spend with the kids. Because when he is around, he is so approachable and easy that it is hard to imagine a critical word escaping his lips.

He and the boys laugh a lot.

Of course, he expresses disapproval when it matters, but he does it without prejudice. There's never any doubt who's side he's on.

My sons have a supportive coach, a gentle guide, a mild male role-model.

And I know they feel this, because they always ask for him first.

This never makes me jealous; I think it's a tribute to our love and a credit to us both.

It makes me feel: I chose right.

Last modified on Monday, 28 February 2011 13:43
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Sara Eisen

Sara Eisen

Sara is a journalist and editor.

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