I’ve gained some extra weight since my wife got pregnant, gave birth, and makes me do all the cooking. I enjoy food, but never to the extent that made me believe I would gain 15 pounds during this pregnancy. Luckily I came across a great blog (see Being Daddy Links) by averagechildhood about weight gain for mamas. I commented about my weight gain and was informed that a study has been done that shows men go through weight gain during pregnancy much like women do. Her responses, and other responses to my comment, made me feel a whole lot better about what I know call my “Daddy Fat.”
What I learned today about being a father:
Mama break was in full gear yesterday afternoon when I got home from work. It was an atypically long day for me, and when I got home Jackie was sitting on the couch eating dinner from Noodles & Company, but she didn’t get me any.
“I didn’t get you any.”
I didn’t flinch at the realization, because she didn’t expect me home for dinner. So I took the dog, Archie, on a fast-food adventure so she could stick her nose out the window and let her shaggy dog-mane flip-flop in the hurried wind.
Archie, you see, was our first baby. Jackie picked her up just over three years ago. We nursed her through worms, pneumonia, and all sorts of other ailments that a small, less than 2 lb baby dog may not have gotten through without the loving care of a parent or parents.
The way Jackie treated Archie was a sign of her parenting style, always in your face and over protective, teaching, guiding, loving, and playful. She adored Archie, and just like with Griffin Archie and I really didn’t have a chance to get to know each other until mama was done making her mark on the dog. I don’t want to compare us buying a dog to mama giving birth, but when I get home from missing my family all day I include little Archie in that phrase, and Jackie likes to say that she’s his big sister.
What I think I know:
I wasn’t fond of the idea of getting a dog, and to be completely honest Jackie went over my head and purchased Archie without my knowledge. It was early on in our relationship, and though it took me some time to get over it (the added responsibility, the costs, the health concerns, etc.) each and every day I am glad to come home to Archie just as much as I am to Jackie and Griffin. Archie and I have a strange bond, one I didn’t notice until the other day when I came home from work and no one was home. I called mama who didn’t answer, and searched the small two-bed for Archie (sometimes she doesn’t rush the door right away, just to make sure you’re really home). When she wasn’t around I sat down hard on the couch, alone, and missed my family even more than usual.
Yesterday’s ride was a great ride for Archie and I. We get to go on walks and I still let her lay on my lap when we watch TV, but I’ve noticed lately how she treats Jackie differently, how Archie lays in her bed instead of on the couch when Jackie, Grif and I are all hanging out on the couch. How in the morning Archie doesn’t come shooting out from underneath the covers when Jackie calls her, and how hesitant Archie has become to really come near mama and show her how much she loves her.
Griffin’s birth has been hard on Archie, the once dominant figure in the household has now taken a back seat to Grif, who needs mama’s full attention. Archie doesn’t eat as much, doesn’t wag her tail as much, and barks more often than is usual. On our car ride, though, I realized that everyone, especially our closest pets, needs a little Babyface Time, too.
And after our ride to get a sandwich I let her run around the front yard, dig in the dirt box behind the apartment, and chase some squirrels. We went upstairs exhausted, me from a long day at work and her from a few extra minutes of being outside. We grabbed the little guy from mama, whom had a rough day, and told her to take the next three hours off. Grif, Archie and me, well, we took a nap on my favorite chair, changed some diapers while dancing to Griffin’s noise maker, me singing a made-up song and Archie barking along, and hung out until it was time to go to bed.
Sometimes being daddy is knowing when to give that added attention to the ones who are not getting it, letting mama take some time off for herself, and letting the dog in all of us run around for just a few extra minutes longer.