This past weekend Wifey attended a baby shower for a close friend as she counts down the days to first time motherhood. Showers always bring up the debate over whether you get something from the registry or go with what Wifey calls her “mommy must haves.” She did both, a collection of goodies, some registry items, some not but all helpful. It may come as no surprise the “mommy must haves” list is a lot longer than any daddy must haves. The whole thing got me thinking about daddy’s role in the early going.
Dads, lets be honest, true baby bonding comes in limited doses early on. Boy, girl, it doesn’t matter, once they’re in the real world, their lives often revolve around mom. From the very beginning, with skin to skin contact, to feedings, there’s a lot of support moms provide. That’s not to say dads don’t do a lot as well, especially after a rough labor. But there is an undeniable bond between mom and baby, from minute one. That’s the tough part (in addition to no sleep) about being dad in the early months. We help with feedings, cleaning, changes, housework, midnight wakings, but no matter what we do, the bond between mom and baby is at its strongest during this time, which can leave you feeling a bit confused about this new bundle of joy. Mom takes care of baby, you take care of mom. This is not unusual. Many other dads say they feel the same way, which can be tough. No one likes to sit on the sidelines for the first few months, but there is a big reward!
Our little one is just about 8 months old and I’m now cashing in on all that he wants to do. Development has been coming fast and steady in recent weeks, he’s picking up Cheerios (and dropping many more), laughing in response to something, army crawling across the room after a specific toy, and even responding to calling his name. In the last few weeks he’s begun to reach out to me, gives little baby hugs, even mimics clapping his hands when I do it. He’s starting to become my little buddy. After a slow start, fatherhood is kicking into overdrive, and I’m loving every minute of it.
Mom is still #1 but dad is now pulling in close behind.
On the heels of Mother’s Day, there’s a reason it’s called the toughest job in the world. Wifey does more for our little guy than I can ever list here. The mental, physical, and emotional growth he learns from her is beyond comprehension. But now, I’m starting to get in on the fun. I previously wrote about the 5 Parenting Lessons I Learned in the First 6 Months in which I said, “admit it’s hard.” It’s true and can be in many different ways. As a dad, your emotional and physical needs may be dramatically different. Physically your exhausted and ready for sleep. Emotionally you may be wondering when baby may become more interested in you. They’re both hard and you overcome them both, but I learned it’s ok to feel both extremes.
Parenthood is the most challenging, exhausting, exhilarating, and amazing experience one can have. That’s not cliche, that’s fact. Growth of your baby signals a growth in you. An understanding that as a father your time is coming, your little buddy or princess will need you, want you, and be drawn to you. All you need to do is be there for when it happens!
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