When I woke up on Mother’s Day I hesitated. It was earlier than usual for a Sunday, and I hadn’t been feeling good for few days. I wanted to go back to sleep for a few hours, join Jackie and Griffin for a few more hours of shut-eye. I laid my head back down, staring up into the ceiling thinking about Jackie’s Mother’s Day gifts. We had purchased a whole new set of workout paraphernalia, new shoes, new socks (buy one get one free!), a few new shirts with shorts to boot. We don’t have the money, we are fighting our way out of debt, and yet I didn’t bat an eye at the things she said she needs.
What I learned today about being a father:
Workout clothes are not enough. I started to daze away, my body so relaxed from the sounds of my family breathing and the echoing of cars driving by Mineral Point. I love the sound of the city, the way tires rub heavy on the cemented roads. I love the way wind flows in through screened up windows, the way the leaves sway in the early morning sun. Laying half asleep, I realized that it’s the sound of productivity, the moving and shaking of life finally waking up.
Archie licked my face and like that I was up and out of bed. We put on some walking shoes and leashed up, went out for some fresh Mother’s Day air and Sunday sun. We took a stroll to the store, bought some flowers and treats for Grandma and mama, some items to create a strawberry and spinach salad for the cookout we were having at the in-laws. By 9AM I was prepping breakfast, lunch, and trying to make an epic splash for mamas first mother’s day.
By the time Jackie and Grif woke up I had burnt the bacon, overcooked the eggs and let the coffee get cold, but I had already ran to Brueggers Bagels for fresh made bagels and fresh brewed coffee, with roses.
What I think I know:
Being daddy is knowing that the first mamas day is the most important. Take a load of off mama, and do your best to make her the breakfast of her dreams and deliver it bedside. If you can’t, improvise.
So I messed up breakfast but I was spot on for lunch, dinner, and dessert (just cupcakes, but who doesn’t love cupcakes?). Grif, grandpa, uncle and I shot some hoops, played some catch, and watched some basketball. Grandma got to hold baby, mama got to chill, and even Archie was able to make a play date out of the day with grandparents dog, Sophie. As un-special as everything was, it was probably the most special day we could have had. Our family, all in one place to celebrate mommy dearest and her special day. Even I can’t mess that up.
Like Griffin’s shirt says, “Mommy’s Rock!” Hope you had a special day mamas, you deserve it.
Being Daddy is hard work, but can you imagine being mommy without the extra hands that being daddy provides? I am sharing this post because I continue to be inspired by BEING DADDY, not just standing on the sidelines letting mama carry the load.
There is a lot of great things out there for us dads to learn, so please enjoy this post and the many more to come!
On mom boards, I’ve been hearing from moms wondering how to get dads to pitch in more, particularly in the child-rearing department. They’re stay-at-home moms with husbands who expect them to handle the kids, or working moms who come home from work only to do even more work around the house. They’re not sure how to get their partners to ease some of the burden from their shoulders.
I’m not surprised with this situation. Women are seen as the nurturing gender, the caregivers of the family (maybe that’s why most schools, hospitals or single-income families I’ve seen tend to have female teachers, female nurses, and stay-at-home moms). Some parenting books even have a section “just for dad,” insinuating that most parenting falls on mom and, oh hey, dad can be involved too. SSBE reader (and dad) Chris from Babies and Dogs posted an article describing a parenting book with just…
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Today was my first day back at work, part time of course, because being away from work for an extended period of time makes it harder to go back to work for a regular period of extended time, especially in the middle of a week. So I tried as I could, getting up early, doing some laundry, changing child and kissing mama good-bye. I packed my bags, walked out the door after petting both cat and dog, and walked to my car. Sounds like a normal adventure in the ponzi scheme of a work-aholic father, though it was anything but.
What I learned today about being a father:
Everything was running smoothly, but what I learned today was that as soon as my butt hit the seat of my car I had already begun to miss my family. Mama is a graduate student studying to be all that she can be, and as the majority bread winner in the family I have to continue to work to provide for the basic need of child and mama which makes work a necessity. I sat in my car and idled in the parking lot of our small, four unit apartment complex and I didn’t want to leave. Thoughts of all the things I was going to miss in this short amount of time rummaged through my mind like lost baggage in an airport. I began to drive myself a little crazy with wishes and dreams of a day when I wouldn’t have to get up to get ready and leave my family, and to say this on my first half-day back makes me wonder how I’m going to get through all of next week when I go back to being full-time plus! I’m scared, nervous, and worried that my work will show signs of distraction or not be as on top of all the things and projects that I have going on in my life.
What I think I know:
Being a work-aholic daddy whose hobbies include running two, tiny, itsy-bitsy businesses while writing frantically trying to finish one of my many masterpieces (that may or may not include short stories, full length novels, screenplays, poetry, and now, of course, this blog) as well as working full-time plus make it hard to find time to get to know your family. Walking out today was difficult knowing that I was going to miss the trials and tribulations of my sons 8th full day of life (where does time go!) even though I had planned to gradually get myself reacclimated at my position over the next two days. I tried to get comfortable at work, readjusting constantly in my chair for a better angle at my cell phone just in case mama calls with some new news of what baby did or to tell me about a poop or pee-pee that we weren’t expecting. I caught myself watching my iPhone, waiting for something to happen, while emails and phone calls and service requests went unanswered.
I like what I do, but being there made me want to be here, at home, even more. I know how hard going back to work can be for mamas, but I didn’t realize how hard it was going to be to go back to work being daddy. I don’t know if others can relate to this, but I also don’t think any of us want to miss what happens next. Unfortunately we have to, and I know that as much as mama missed my support at home today I know that she appreciates my support by continuing to bring home a paycheck.
Do you have any advice for a work-a-home-aholic daddy who struggles to find time just for himself without trying to find time for baby and mama? I appreciate your feedback and insight.
It shouldn’t be a topic of taboo, and even if it is I’ve got to tell everyone how amazed I am by the resilience of the female body. Today the milk man brought to our doorstep more than my beautiful wife could handle, making regular daddy duties seem infantile to the prospects of providing vital nutrients and vitamins to our child’s development.
If it wasn’t for this sweet nectar of life (is it sweet? I can’t remember) provided by our mothers, very few of us would have made it this far. Each new day brings challenges, but seeing my wife’s eyes light up with the coming of the milk gave us hope that all her efforts and hardships nursing will pay off, soar nipples and all.
What I learned about being a father:
Every time I take a relaxed, content baby from mama into my arms I swaddle him closely to try to form a bond in the likes of that between child and mother. Subsequently, child wraps himself into me, looks into my eyes and at the happy smile on my face, listens to my goo-goo’s and ga-ga’s for a moment, and then begins to wail like a banshee in the setting sun.
His reactions have made me nervous, thinking I’m holding him wrong or that he’s getting cold or that I’m not giving enough support where I should. Mama takes him away, quiets him down, and something amazing happens next; she reassures me that the reasons he starts crying are not just because of me.
Being daddy becomes a little bit harder as I realize that he is much more dependent on mama for all the things he needs. My natural instinct is to think and act like a provider, try to give my child everything he needs and keep my family safe from harm, but baby doesn’t know all that yet. What I learned about being daddy is that there are definitely hard times ahead in terms of developing a relationship with a child who doesn’t necessarily need me, his daddy, when mama is really the most important person in his development as a newborn.
After three days of wondering why he doesn’t take to me I have my lovely wife to thank for getting me out of my small rut of not feeling needed. I still try to keep him safe and calm and content, but when I can’t and she takes him from me she looks at me with reassuring eyes, tells me he loves me very much, gives me a kiss, and then directs me to get her something to drink and make her lunch. That, in itself, is my way of taking care of the baby.
What I think I know:
What I thought I knew about breasts has been thrown out the window. I was once a young man growing up goo-gooing and ga-gaing about breasts just as much as my son does now, but being daddy has shown me everything the amazing breasts can do and how truly important they are to the development of child. I’m enamored about the rituals and routines that my wife has perfected and how seriously she takes the importance of breast feeding. She is a rock, and because of her I’ve learned to respect the breast in a completely different way then I did before.
It may sound strange, but learning about Colostrum, the importance of a correct latch and all the benefits breast feeding provides for mama and child have truly made me feel more grown up. As I watch her nurse I am amazed about the changes that have taken place inside her body, but just as important I am concerned with how child is doing. What I know now is that helping child with a better latch, cleaning breast pump equipment, keeping mama and child awake during feeding (because yes, she has fallen asleep a time or two already), and knowing that her fabulous breasts are making baby more healthy and more alive every day are part of what being daddy is all about. And as her trusted assistant I am tasked with the most important duty of all, rubbing Lanoline cream over her soar areola and nipple areas.
Anything I can do to help… that’s what it takes being daddy.