I’m just going to come out and say it… In a lot of ways, new Dads have it *gasp* harder than new Moms.
Prior to Charlie’s birth, 9 out of 10 respondents polled were uncertain as to how Tristan would adjust to fatherhood. Not that he wouldn’t be a great father, eventually. Just that it would be a big learning curve, given his lack of experience with children, his lack of really ever mentioning wanting/being excited about children, and his lack of anxiety and panic surrounding the fact that we were about to be responsible for another human life. Did I mention he fell asleep in our birth class? Yep.
I knew all along that Tristan was destined to be a wonderful father, based solely upon the example set forth for him by his own Dad. But I will admit, Tristan’s general lack of urgency had me a bit nervous too. Mostly because a crying newborn screams “urgency” to me, and I knew Tristan’s way of joy riding in slow-motion through life was about to get steamrolled by a Mac Truck called Mama Bear.
In reality, it took Tristan about 5 seconds to get used to being a father. I think mostly because he was relieved to discover, upon his entry into the world, that Charlie and he had something in common — a wiener.
As soon as Tristan exclaimed “It’s a boy!” I knew he had changed. I could hear it in his voice and see it on his face, how proud and excited he was. He followed Charlie everywhere he went in the hospital. He was great for the first diaper change, especially when bare-bottomed C-man decided he wasn’t done going yet – out of either end. He’s a great “shoosh”-er. A great soother. A great burper. He was even better at the swaddle than me.
I believe that a lot of the transition of woman to mother happens instinctually. Our child’s cry sets off the waterworks (and I’m not talkin’ tears), and we can magically soothe them with our breast. We quickly learn the pitch and tone of each cry, so we can easily pinpoint the culprit – if he’s hungry, he’s tired, or he’s got gas. Plus, we spent 9 months getting to know our little bundle while they were in the womb. So we just know things. Like, it’s no surprise to us that they get a violent case of the hiccups after eating, considering it happened without fail after each meal we ate in the third trimester.
I’m not trying to say that moms have it easy, by any means. After giving birth, we go pretty crazy with hormones and lack of sleep, we’re in pain because our nipples are raw and our girl parts have been torn to shreds (or, even better, our bellies cut open), and our normal clothes don’t fit but our maternity clothes are now too big. We go from thinking we couldn’t get any more tired of people asking us “have you had the baby yet?!?!” pre-birth, to now thinking If someone asks when my baby is due, I’ll straight-up cut them.
Not to mention that it seems the entire population is trying to give you unsolicited parenting advice (Give him rice cereal, he’ll sleep through the night! Just let him sleep on his belly, nbd! Don’t eat peanuts or he’ll become allergic! He can’t fart at 3:33 on a Sunday or he’ll turn into a potato! Crazy shit like that.) Or, they’re rubbing all up in his grill during flu season. Or, they think they need to remind you every 30 seconds to “enjoy every second, because it goes by fast” and to “sleep while the baby sleeps”, as if that doesn’t make you want to roundhouse kick them to the jaw.
But, let’s not forget the other 50% of the gene pool. Daddies have it rough, too. First of all, they have to put up with the crazy woman that is a result of the above. I mean, do I even have to remind you of Milk-Gate or the Great Sweatpants Caper of 2012? Where a new mom is pretty much expected to go slightly over to the bad place, the new dad is kind of just supposed to buck up and take it. I mean, what kind of man is going to fight back against the woman who he just witnessed puke up her life, shit on a table, and give herself hemorrhoids – all for their child?
When we brought Charlie home, we decided it would be fair to tag team the middle-of-the-night feedings while we both had time off from work. I’d sleep while Tristan would get up and change the diaper, then I’d get up and nurse while he went back to sleep. 50/50…so you’d think. But, I’m what some people may call the World’s Deepest Sleeper. And, even though a million women told me I’d wake up every time Charlie farted, I didn’t. So, this mid-night pattern turned into Tristan getting up, waking me up, changing the diaper, waking me up again, I’d finally get up and nurse Charlie in the rocking chair, and Tristan would watch us to make sure I didn’t fall asleep and drop the child on his head. I’d say 75/25 is more accurate.
When Tristan went back to work, I thought it fair that I take the night feedings completely considering I would be able to sleep in and he had to work. Haha, yeah like that happened. And now that we’re both back to working, he is still stuck with getting up to do the diaper change while I get Charlie delivered to me, freshly changed, as I lay my lazy ass in bed and nurse him side-lying. 90/10.
As if this help during the night isn’t enough, Tristan is also expected to help during the day. And of course he does. He’s the first to jump up for a diaper change and sometimes faster to respond to Charlie’s cry than I am. But his urge to be Super Dad, of course, isn’t always looked upon favorably by me. Sometimes, he’ll try to help with a diaper change or when Charlie is fighting the boob. “I’m FINE, we don’t need your help here!”
Back in the beginning when we were still getting the hang of breastfeeding, it only took once for Tristan to ask, “Should I make a bottle of formula?” The death glare he got MUST have said it all because, strangely, that topic has never resurfaced.
But, god forbid he not help me and something go wrong. Like, the other day when I put Charlie in his jumperoo and he cried as his leg got caught in the foot hole. “Well, it’s kind of hard to do this myself YA KNOW!” Or, the time I asked him to find me the gas drops while I was holding the screaming child. By “find,” I meant for him to get the gas drops, measure out a drop and administer it to the kid. He went to hand me the package instead. “What, do I look like an octopus? I have TWO HANDS!” Clearly his telepathy meter was turned off. Poor guy.
And even though there is no one I trust more with our son, I still can’t help but hover when he does help. Though, I learned real quick early on not to criticize the speed with which he changed a diaper… Note to new moms, don’t ever look a diaper-changing horse in the mouth.
Yet, I still find myself supervising things like bath time. (Don’t forget that crusty spot behind his ear!) Or, the buckling into the car seat. (Did you pinch the strap? Are you sure you couldn’t pinch it? Here, let me pinch it.) And, because I married a nerd, the evidence suggests that I am justified in supervising play time:
So, here’s to my husband. The love of my life. Dad of year. You are the Peter to my Lois. The Mulder to my Scully. The Castle to my Beckett. The Jack, Sawyer, Jack to my Kate. I love you, and I could never do this without you!
Really, what I’m trying to get at here is that I think we need to give credit where credit is due. New moms have is tough, but new dads do too. They walk a fine line between She’ll Bite My Head Off If I Help-ville and Dead-Beat Lazy Asshole City when it comes to trying to help us. They do a lot of the heavy lifting (literally – that car seat gets freaking heavy) while also providing support emotionally. And they take it all in stride, knowing that not only does their wife have a new #1 man, but also having resigned to the fact that they are no longer king of the bedroom.