Monday, November 9, 2009

The Father #2

It's been such a pleasure to observe my husband becoming a Father to a son all over again. His first born is 23 years old now and the bond between them is strong.

When #2 was born, it took awhile. As the Mommy, and with a Nanny, my poor Hubby never had a hope in hell. "Here, I'll do it." "I'll get up." "I'm taking him for a walk." I shut him out almost completely. He never rocked him to sleep, rarely changed a diaper and with the exception of showing him YouTube videos on the computer, I rationalized that it was "easier/faster/more efficient" for me to do it all (or the Nanny). I didn't "have the time" or more truthfully, want, to delegate any responsibility for baby care to Dad. And the thought of them going anywhere alone and the associated anxiety (what if he starts to cry? what if he poos? what if he starts to cry?) was enough for me to silence any thoughts of either a) giving myself a break or b) allowing for some bonding.

So I did almost all of it. With Dada as my wingman, on occasion. Not that he didn't love the little rascal. Not that he wasn't there capturing moments with his camera to share with our far-away family every chance he got. But in those first months, I had built up some resentment. Why doesn't he ask to take him on an outing? Why doesn't he want to spend some quality time with our son? Doesn't he love him? Looking back, I realize it was me. It was my fault. I pushed him away.

But my continued persistence at doing it all with our son did little to discourage either of them from bonding...thankfully. It started off simple enough. The little man grew too big to be bathed in the baby bath and Dad offered to bathe with him. It became a nightly ritual that still continues to this day. Every night, Dad and the Man splash around in the tub. It's their time. Together. Alone. And then I added swimming lessons to the mix. Sort of by accident because I had no time to shop for a bathing suit. And now, every Thursday tub time extends to pool time.

I honestly don't know which one of them is more excited for our weekly trip to the local watering hole. I have never seen either of them grin so much. And as the only other parent who sits poolside to observe the fun, my face is seriously sore by the time lessons are over.

"Did you see him dunk his face in the water? His back float is getting better because I hum in his ear when his ears are in the water and he likes the sound. That second time, he jumped right in. He has no fear!" All excited comments from hubby and all music to my ears.

And yesterday we dragged Dad out grocery shopping. A rather mundane chore for me and the little guy. But this morning, after lunch, over 24 hours later, "Did you hear him scream out, 'Look Dada, Lemons!'?" Yes honey, I did.

Our little tyke has had the same very early morning ritual for the past 6 months. Every day at around 5am, I can expect to see his sleepy face at my bedside. Most mornings I don't remember pulling him into bed with us. But every morning, we find him tangled up in our sheets and babbling a morning greeting. Our little rooster. Well one morning, my husband woke to find his body missing from our bed and was in full panic mode. "Where is HE?!" I rushed out of the room only to find our baby fast asleep in his own bed (due to a late night the night before).

I think, depending on what kind of marriage/family you have, the bonding between father and child comes a little later on in the game. When baby is no longer breastfeeding every 2 hours and does more than discover his toes, crack a smile or accept a spoonful or pureed whatever (though the latter is always exciting for everyone). When that baby develops a personality and becomes a little person, Dad enters the picture in a much larger way. At least this is the case for our family.

And from the way my son insists on giving sleeping Dada a kiss before we leave for school, asks for him the instant I pick him up, crawls all over him looking for some wrestling and genuinely enjoys every second they spend together...I wouldn't have it any other way.

What about your family Moms? When did you let Dad join in the fun?


septembermom said...

They are going to have a wonderful relationship. It's so nice when son and daddy bonding time kicks in. You'll love watching your two "men" goof off, show off and play around. Really great photo at the top of the post!

Mon said...

Aww, love this post, So happy for the Husband, and the little guy.

The Mother is not disconnected from the child's psyche until they are around 18mths. You and he are one. So it is natural, this father comes second. Add to that that as dads don't carry or breastfeed, they need at least the equivalent 9mth period to create the bond.

I encouraged from the beginning, but again, I was bfing and the rest. But later, well, he's just not a confident person and he's fogetful. So umm, yeah, I'll look after HER interests first. And she refuses to be without me for long anyways.

But the bond is there because they don't need to be alone to form it. I support it now by leaving certain things his domain - like spinning coins on the floor which she loves. I say when she asks me, mama try, oh no! tata better do it. Small things, but it adds. More important in our situation her being a girl.

For boys, they'll gravitate to dad anyway, as they begin to understand their shared likeness of maleness (usually around 3yrs old).

SwedishJenn said...

@SeptemberMom: I love that photo too. There are so few of the two of them (cuz Dad is always behind the lens).

@Mon: I was thinking about you when I wrote this post actually so I'm glad you love it. The whole 9 month thing really makes a lot of sense doesn't it? I agree with the whole "domain" thing and that has been working very well for us too. For example, the baths, the swimming lessons and other small things I won't touch as it's their thing.

Here in Sweden gender equality is paramount and no place is this more evident than in parenting, where both parents spend equal amounts of time with their children. I have yet to meet a father that doesn't take full advantage of his Government-given minimum 6 months of parental leave, usually when Mom goes back to work after a minimum of 1 year. And they do (almost) all the things "Mommies do".