Monday, September 18, 2006

A Daddy Story

A website by the name of the Sisterhood Six requested daddy stories so I thought I'd write ours.

Just over one year ago today I gave birth to our daughter. While I was pregnant I often felt that it didn't seem 'real' for my husband. For several months there was no physical evidence that I was actually carrying our child. Yet my constant nausea and vomiting was a 'real' symptom and I know he felt terrible for me. The first time I recall him being notably excited was when we had our ultrasound. He was simply amazed to see this alien like being growing inside of me. To see it's heart beating. For me this was a touching moment. Seeing our child for the first time as well as seeing him light up that way about our baby.

As the months went by I often placed his hand on my tummy so that he could feel a kick. Usually the baby wouldn't cooperate and he would get tired of waiting. The reality that I had our child growing inside eventually hit me but for my husband it still seemed surreal. Until the night my water broke. I will never forget waking him up and sending him for a towel. As I lay there in bed, totally in shock that this was actually happening he was jumping up and down, clapping his hands and telling me “It feels like Christmas.” Suddenly he was ready for this baby to be here. I just remember feeling scared.

From the moment he saw her I knew he fell in love. His eyes glazed over and he had a smile permanently plastered on his face. I remember him telling me a couple of days after she was born “It's crazy, you and I chose to love each other but with her... I have no choice, I just love her.” I also sheepishly recall feeling jealous when he said this. Before, I was the only girl he loved and now I had to share him. On the other hand I couldn't have been happier. To know how much he loved her, that he'd go to the ends of the earth for her, There was peace in that.

When we brought our daughter home she was not eating or sleeping well. I was becoming less and less sane with each passing day. During all of this my husband had unending patience with both the baby and I. He would take our screaming little girl out of my arms and walk around the house with her doing the special Dada bounce. She would instantly calm down and I would sit there in bed frustrated, exhausted and alone. Waves of jealousy came over me again. How did he have so much patience? Why was he able to get her to calm down? Ultimately though I was relieved. Relieved to have a small break, to have a husband who was so good with our child and relieved that he was there for me.

When our baby was just 3 ½ months old I went back to work. I worked two evenings and on Saturdays. During these times she was with her Dada. At first he was a bit nervous about everything this entailed. When should he give her a bottle, how much should he give her and how long did he need to warm it up? How often should he change her? When should she nap and for how long? How would he put her to sleep? I tried to make this adjustment as easy as possible for him by making up the bottles with the specific amounts and writing a list of helpful hints. I knew that for the most part it was something they would have to figure out together. And they did. In no time they had their own routine and everything was awesome.

Over this year I have seen the special bond that they have with one another. I appreciate how equally important we both are to her because both of us have been her caregivers. I recognize how differently we each parent.

When she is with her Dada it is all about fun, fun, fun. He always takes the time to sing to her, play games and read stories. His primary concern is for her to be content and happy. He often lets her do things that I wouldn't, only under a very watchful eye. (and sometimes records these moments on video so that I can watch in horror when I get home.) I think those are times when she learns the most because she is allowed to explore and experience things more. I know he enjoys his time with her so much and will often tell me about all the cool things she did or just how much fun she was, when I get home. He has been very understanding about all the times when I was late getting home from work and was amazing looking after a very hungry baby. He would never cave in and give her a bottle because he knew that I needed to feed her when I finally made it home.

I struggle sometimes with the differences in our parenting roles. I feel that often I don't have time to be so 'fun' because there is so much to be done. Tidying up is a priority of mine and it takes time. Sometimes when I arrive home and see that things aren't so tidy anymore I am frustrated. But when I see how happy our daughter is it makes me question the importance of my tidying. My time would be better spent sitting with my baby reading or playing than it is cleaning up and doing dishes while she amuses herself. When the two of them are together they rarely have to run errands like getting groceries, go to the bank or pay bills. My days at home with her are often filled with running around and hurrying from one thing to the next. I envy the relaxed fun they seem to have together. But again I think I need to make a choice and an effort to spend some of our time together that way.

My husband often tells me what a great Mama I am. He marvels at all I am able to get done while I am with the baby. I'm pretty sure he thinks I know best as far as our daughter is concerned. But I have learned so much from him about parenting over this past year. The importance of patience. How to be flexible. How not to take an infants behavior personally. How to have fun. That it is okay not to be in control every minute. How to let go.

I feel lucky every day to have such a wonderful husband who is also an amazing father. I marvel at the way he looks after our daughter and I am learning to embrace our differences and trying to adopt some of his ways. I am thankful that he makes me look at things in a whole new way.

*And because I know he'll be reading this I want him to know that although I may appreciate our differences I would still like you to tidy up. Just a little bit. For the sake of my sanity. xoxo

Submit your daddy stories to www.sisterhoodsix.com.

5 comments:

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Jenn said...

That was a very nice Daddy Story. I see the relaxed fun parenting with the daddy in our family too. Like you say, we're always doing a gazillion other things when looking after kids but when dads do, that's what they do. I never really thought that maybe it was like that in other families too.

Valarie said...

What a great post. The dad in our house is much more fun as well.

Andrew said...

I talk about the tidying up issue a lot on my blog in a series of articles entitled The Hunt for the Vacuum Cleaner Gene. (Hunting for it in hubbies, don't you know...) The amount of housework explodes when kids come along and sharing the work becomes a necessity for maintaining sanity. Come to think of it, maybe if you could get him to read this post it would motivate him :o)

Andrew
To Love, Honor and Dismay

bon said...

Yeah... I'm thinking about writing a Daddy post too. But Dadguy's lack of interest AND enthusiasm extended till Birdie was at least six months old. The older a kid gets, the more involved HE gets.