This is something from my archives. It was originally published February 16, 2010. Everything is fine, but I am dealing with a baby two weeks short of one year who has learned to walk and has decided she’d rather practice that than sleep. Please enjoy.
Last night Baby V drifted off to sleep at around 6:40 p.m. She napped in the car on the way home from Eaton Canyon, falling asleep almost the second I strapped her in the car seat. I knew this would interfere with her nap, but her second nap is hit or miss lately. Sometimes it’s 20 minutes long, sometimes she skips it altogether, still other times she sleeps for an hour and 15 minutes. We left the hiking trail around 3:30, so her 20 minute snooze in the car was right on time.
When we got home, I sat to nurse her (hopefully) back to sleep, while Odie grabbed a cocktail and disappeared into his mancave. I struggled to get her down for about an hour before it became clear that Baby V was awake and staying that way. I envied Odie his hour of mancave time. Any free time I get (like right now, as I write this) is accompanied by my baby’s wails of protest that she is not ON MY BODY AT EVERY MOMENT OF TIME.
Odie emerged from the mancave and helped entertain Baby V since she was going to be awake until bedtime. He was happy to let me have some computer time and a glass of wine. They “walked’ around the house, played with toys, banged on the drum, and the like for about an hour. Every time Baby V looked at me during this time, however, she emitted a whine/yell that pierces my brain and sets my nerves on edge every time I hear it. Nature did not design baby wails to be easy for mommies to ignore.
He tried all his tricks. There aren’t many. Not lately. Since she turned about 8 and a half months, nothing but being held by Mommy will do. Everything else is just distracting her from the fact that she’s not with me. It’s sweet a lot of the time, but it’s terribly frustrating other times. Last night was one of those times. She fell asleep around 6:40, like I mentioned, but then she popped awake at 8:00. I thought she’d just stir and then go back down, but she stayed awake. Until 11:00. I was insistent about trying to nurse her back down because I just didn’t have the energy to sit and play toys with her and I feared it would wind her up. Even though she was stubbornly awake, she kept sort of dozing off. As soon as I thought, “Maybe, just maybe this is it!” she would pop her eyes open in a wide exaggerated way and show me that this was indeed NOT IT.
At 9:30, Odie emerged from his mancave to let me know he was going to hit the hay. I couldn’t be gracious. I said, “Lucky you,” as Baby V squealed and pinched my nipples.
For just one day, I’d like to be the daddy. I’d like to hand the baby off to my spouse whenever she fusses and know that she’ll be well taken care of. I’d like to drink as many beers as I like and not worry about how the alcohol will affect my child. I’d like to leave 100% of the feeding and sleeping of the baby to another person. I’d like to change between 3 and zero diapers. I’d like a room of my own where I can go and shut the door and spend an hour or two however I please, knowing that the baby will not cry for me or need me. I’d like to have the satisfaction of knowing that I go to work and make the money for the family and be able to spend that money how I choose.
I’d like to sleep 7-8 hours in a row, uninterrupted. Or if I do wake up at the sound of my wife feeding our baby, I’d like to know she’s handling it and go back to sleep.
Okay, fantasy over. I know Odie works hard. I know how difficult it is to be a teacher because I’ve been one for 10 years. I don’t know how hard it is to be a math teacher. Math is a pretty universally loathed subject and even CNN can’t report on the TED conference without referring to the participants as “math nerds.” Not “math enthusiasts” or “math geniuses,” they have to go with the cruel and stigmatizing “nerds.”
I also know Odie loves our daughter and is willing to lend a hand whenever I ask. There is literally no task I have or could ever ask him to do that he would not take on. He’s that good of a father. The rub is that we are doing “Attachment Parenting” which puts the father very much in a supporting role as long as Baby V is nursing (which will be until she is at least one and probably longer). I have no complaints about Odie as a father.
But I’d like to trade places for a day. Preferably a Saturday.
Attachment parenting is a misnomer, isn’t it? It sounds more like attachment-mothering, which, as you stated, puts the brunt of early-years nurturing on the mom. I have a feeling, based on casual field research, that things even out in the coming years. One formerly minimally-involved dad I know has become the official carpool/taxi/chauffeur to his ‘tweens while the formerly-attached mom waves goodbye to him from her chaise.
I have been reading your wife’s blog for a while, it’s insightful and witty .I liked your pos,t it reminded me of how lucky I am to be with both my girls all day, every day .I work nights, so I start work at 8pm pretty much once they are asleep, my wife gets them up and off the day care and school and I sleep in until 10am, as normal finished work at 4am. I pick my youngest up at Midday, she is 4 as she has 3 hours at day care. Then I pick my 5 year old up at 2pm, which is what time school finishes here in Malta. Sorry my timetable is a pretty boring things to share with you but the short of it I spend all my day pretty much with my girls. Of course there times where they drive me fucking crazy but by and large it’s awesome .They are so cute, caring and full of life and joy .I don’t spend much time with other people kids , so I assume it is this was way for most parents with 4 and 5 years old kids, but they just so happy all the time .They are all the time singing ,and laughing and giggling, constantly wanting to be tickled, cuddled and kissed .I wouldn’t trade this time in for anything in the world. Having an aggressive and indifferent father has been its own blessing, as it made realise the value of just being with them, showing an interested, caring how they feel .You and your wife are great parents , it’s wonderful to read of such warmth ,tenderness, sincerity and affection .Given in the present state of the world there so many things to get down about, its genuinely uplifting to read of your own unconcealed nucleus of love and care. Best wishes Ewan