I am a part of a couple mommy groups on Facebook. They are wonderful communities. You can ask any question you are worried about, kid related or otherwise. Seek advice when you are ready to pull out your hair. Vent when your child just won’t calm down and your promise of Elmo’s hair trimmings and tears of their sworn enemy (probably the a-hole kid at the park that eats sand) won’t work. I posted last week that I was wondering how to build my freezer supply of breast milk. To have on hand, have in case of emergency, or to have in case I can’t figure out what to make for dinner that night. You know, preparedness. I asked how moms figured out a schedule. I mentioned that I pumped a bottle full in the morning so my husband could feed it to Eva at night in so I could sleep.
I got a lot of helpful and supportive comments per usual in these groups. One mom gave advice and then added, “And good man for letting you sleep!” I am 100% positive this was said out of truth and personal experience, but all I could think was, “Of course. She’s half his. This is his daughter too.” It made me think more and more why we so commonly see these comments or make them to each other. Even the nurse that leads my breast feeding support group said something along the same lines. I understand that it would be so easy for Tim to say that I’m the food supply so why wouldn’t I stay up to feed her? It’s my job. It’s the most ridiculous pink tax ever.
The thing is, Tim is a father and not my assistant. Is it true that mother’s roles are more intensive with a newborn, especially those who breast feed? For sure. You are in demand 24/7 and when you hear that cry you know, you know that you are the only one who is going to make it stop. Our society has made fathers into somewhat of a punch line. They don’t know how to do anything. They rely on mom to fix everything. They are clueless outside the garage and taking out the trash. We even have the joke of kids needing something and dad saying, “I can help” and they get all worried and say, “Where’s mom?” When will we make it to the point where a kid will ask, “Where’s dad?”
Don’t get me wrong. Do I look over at Tim sleeping soundly at 4 am while feeding our daughter and get jealous? Duh. Would I have no problem waking Tim up from a sound sleep at 4 am to help with our daughter? Duh. At what point though do I become less in demand? I’ll be a stay at home mom so our little one will be with me at least eight hours a day through the week. It will be difficult for both of us to switch mind sets during the weekends to make dad be the one in demand. But in our house culture I so desperately want that for her. I want her to wake up from a nightmare and have to think for a second who to call out for. I want her to run to both of us when she scrapes her knee. I want her to call both of us when she gets her heart broken. I want her to think of both of us when she thinks of home.
Are there husbands out there who do look for the recognition of pitching in? I know there are. I used to work with a guy who would sleep in a guest room when his wife gave birth and wouldn’t wake through the night to help because he had to work the next day and she didn’t. He unfortunately said this in front of our office staff and I’m sure if there were tomatoes to be thrown they would have been. I guess that the magical thing about gender progression. Through the last few decades housewives and moms all over have realized that they don’t have to go through this alone. They can tell their husband they need to hold their baby because, yes, it is your turn. They can say, “I don’t feel happy with this situation and I don’t know why.” They can ask for help because damnit, those little meatballs are hard to wrangle.
Our little Eva is six weeks old and it’s been about 100 weeks since we brought her home. There have been a thousand diapers and about 200 loads of laundry already. Times we’ve looked at each other and said how much we love her and each other. Times we’ve looked at each other and said, “God, I hope this gets easier.” It already has. It will. We’ll get there together. We’ll get there as parents, not as Amy and her lovely assistant Tim. Today I proudly celebrate Tim’s first father’s day with his daughter because he has more than earned the title of dad. He knows I didn’t have a child, we did. He would move heaven and earth for our little one, not ask me to do it and that’s what makes him a father. It’s what makes him a parent.