On Daddies and Babies

Recently on a motherhood forum I belong to a mom posted a lament about how she thought her marriage was failing.  Her husband and baby daddy (they just got married last summer) spends a lot of time on his phone and doesn’t spend a lot of time with their 18 month old when he isn’t working.  He works long hours, comes home, tries to spend time with the baby and she cries so he just watches TV or plays on his phone.

Here’s the thing about parenthood: it takes work.  Some of it, especially when the baby is really young, it SUCKS.  It’s hard and thankless and seems neverending.

Boohoo.

We all go through this.  Even mommas.  We have the upper hand because we carried the kid for 9 months so there is a a bond there already.  Daddies? They have to really work at it.

Someone posted and told her that some, if not most, daddies just don’t know how to deal with a kid until they are 2.5 or 3 and can communicate on their own and play for real.  I call bullshit.

The reason daddies don’t like being involved with littles is because it involves so much work and they lack the equipment (milk-filled boobs) to get the kid calmed down quickly.  It is so easy when baby is crying to hand him or her off to momma to be nursed and comforted.  Why can’t daddies do the comforting?

My husband was 53 when our daughter was born.  In all of the time I’ve known him I have never seen him hold a baby.  Not once.  We have friends who adopted the sweetest little boy and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him.  We all cajoled him into holding the baby but it didn’t work.  He retreated outside to have a cigarette instead.

While I was pregnant he talked to her in my belly.  When she was born he was there in the room.  He would give her a bottle when he first got home from work in the evenings.  He participated in bath time.

They are very close now.  She’s on him like velcro the minute he walks in the door at night.

Now there was a time even with all of this that she only wanted me.  We fought through it.  I would leave her with him while I went grocery shopping on Saturday mornings and some days she would cry the whole time I was gone.

He figured it out. He figured out how to calm her, how to engage her in play.  My intelligent, well-spoken Harley-riding husband will play with baby dolls, he will sing to her, he will dance with her and he will even change poopy diapers.

Of course, he’s older, and he never thought he would have a child of his own, so to him this is a golden opportunity that he isn’t going to pass up.  Maybe younger guys just don’t feel that way, and that’s a shame.

My advice to the forum poster was to talk with her husband and explain that the daughter cries because she doesn’t know him and if he doesn’t put in the effort, then she never will.  Pick her up and she cries?  Deal with it.  Find a way to calm her, whether it is showing her pictures on your phone or making her a sippy of water or making an ass of yourself dancing to some goofy Elmo song for her amusement.

If you have to make a non-Facebook pact, do it.  I’ve got some super-ridiculous pictures of my husband clowning around for his baby girl.  I cherish them, but I know that they would embarrass him if posted online so I don’t.  I save them for my own amusement.

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