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How to Unplug

How to Unplug

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Published by Tom Matlack
Tom Matlack shares five tips for full-contact fatherhood.
Tom Matlack shares five tips for full-contact fatherhood.

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Published by: Tom Matlack on Feb 25, 2011
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08/17/2011

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How to Unplug: Physical Contact
Tom Matlack shares five tips for full-contact fatherhood.
I still remember the first time I fed my son Seamus a bottle. He was 6 months old. I lived alone in abachelor pad on the corner of Massachusetts and Commonwealth avenues in Boston. It was a moment thatsaved me. The smell of him. The feeling of his little body going limp with sleep. The sound of himsuckling in my darkened bedroom.I held him long after he went to sleep. Finally, I placed him gently into the pack ’n’ play crib I had set upnearby. Still I watched him sleeping, not wanting the moment to pass. Seamus is as big as I am now; astrapping teenager. He has an older sister who just went to her prom. I got remarried after six years as adivorced dad and had another boy, Cole, who is now 6. So I still get to read bedtime stories and lay in hiscowboy bunk bed well after he is asleep, just feeling him close and allowing the sensation of fatherhood tosweep over me like a cool breeze in a hot desert.
Maybe it is my difficulty with words, or my tendency to spin off into a male Eeyore grouchiness, or mystruggle throughout my life to feel like I belong—but to me, the touchstone of faith, unplugging, andserenity has always been physical contact with my kids, when they were small and even now when I, badback and all, play an all-out game of one-on-one basketball with Seamus.I know that I am not alone in this feeling of connection. Moms obviously have deep instinctual drives thattake over the moment their babies are born. But the reaction of men’s bodies to physical contact is no lesspowerful. I have experienced similar relaxation by getting down on the ground and rubbing my yellow lab
 
puppy Penny’s belly. So, if you are a mom, dad, dog owner, or just an aunt or uncle, listen up. Here aresome easy ways to forget your troubles and bliss out.
Help a baby get to sleep.
Rocking chairs are great. The standing sway of the hips works too. Sing some songs that come from thedeep recesses of your childhood brain. Use your senses. Feel the child. She will find that little nook between your shoulder and neck to rest her head.
 Read morehere.
Comments
1.
Tom, you have a new reader–I love this post. My girls are now budding teenagers. I rememberfondly how I would hold them as babies. To be honest, to this day I love nothing more thansnuggling up with them on the couch, or just hugging them and hearing about their day after we allget home.
Reply 2.
 
Emotionally compelling and informationally rich post. My 7 yr old daughter is the only oen,whose diapers I changed and connected with an an infant. Her mom, now my ex wife, was sick with esclampsia so I was the first person to feed her, change her, get her to sleep, bath her, etc.Those fist 3 months of bonding made my daughter and I connected for life. I woild add 4 morethings.1) sing to your child. My daughter still asks about those Beatles songs she heard as an infant.Whenever Abbey Road gets played in the car her face lights up and she makes me Octopus’Garden and Baby Im amzed at my out of tuned loudest.2) let them watch you work, make breakfast, and be daddy. Between six months old and two yearsthey soak in every move you make.

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