Are Stay at Home Dads as Rare as Unicorns?

Don't worry son, Daddy has it under control.
Don’t worry son, Daddy has it under control.

Becoming a father was an experience filling me with a pride I’d never felt before.  When the initial euphoria passed my emotions ranged from happiness to concern.   Realizing I’d be responsible for caring for this this fragile little thing my biggest worry was please don’t let me screw this up.

Esther and I started out as tag-team parents.  She gave me my initial parental crash course—SAHD 101.  It was all new to me, my first time feeding, changing and bathing a baby, it went well but I was working with a net—Esther was there to grab the reins if there was a problem.

Esther’s returning to work from maternity leave meant it was time for me to fly solo.  Easing my transition she packed the baby bag and left three outfits for Cristian daily.  I eased her separation anxiety by texting her status updates and pictures of the baby throughout the day.

In addition to my initial anxiety, a few family members were concerned—okay maybe more than a few.  Trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s always seemed to coincide with aunts, uncles and cousins stopping by for a visit.  Although many wanted to see the baby—sometimes it was more than that.  There were too many offers to feed and change the baby.   I guess they thought I didn’t know what I was doing.  If I knew this in advance I’d have loaded Cristian up on prunes for an extra gooey diaper.

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Coming from a large family means my family tree is filled with many older cousins who are more like aunts and uncles.   My generation’s male children were the first taking a greater part in the parenting responsibilities than our fathers did. The older guys never fed or changed a baby.  Looking at us they must be wondering where did we go wrong.

Initially my aunts were confused by all this shared responsibility.  My brother, for example was an excellent Dad from Day One.  It didn’t surprise me—my aunts didn’t know what to make of it.  Watching their confused expressions the first time they saw him giving his daughter a bottle, you would have thought he split the atom.

It’s been 16-months and I still hear “how cute” from aunts, uncles and even a few neighbors when they see me taking care of the baby.  If my brother feeding and bathing his daughter was a surprise then I must be a Unicorn.  I mean I’m home taking care of him every day.

What the older generation hasn’t grasped is this isn’t about being cute—I’ll leave that to the baby.  I’m not alone, there are many like me doing the same thing either by choice or because of their current situation.  I’ve thought about leaving the baby home on the couch with a bottle and the remote while I go out, but it probably wouldn’t work out so well.  So maybe not.

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The Night Owl

IMG_3432 (2)A few posts back I wrote about the winter of 2016 wreaking havoc on my family.  It’s been a rough one for the baby.  Last year he was pretty healthy, but this year he’s endured a severe diaper rash, lingering cold, a virus, and an ear infection.

A few doctor’s appointments and rounds of antibiotics later we’re all mostly recovered—mostly recovered.  One thing remains unsettled, Cristian’s sleep pattern.  Sleepless nights are something Dad Bloggers write about—along with drippy diapers and do Dads parent their children or babysit them.

I went back and checked, fifteen of my posts mentioned sleep deprivation or Cristian’s sleep patterns in one way or another—maybe I should chime in on the parenting vs babysitting debate.

Establishing a toddler’s sleep pattern isn’t an exact science, it requires lots of trial and error.  We started putting him to bed at 10 pm with a bottle and Sesame Street or Pepa Pig running on a tablet.  We were making progress until he got sick.

I miss nights like this one
I miss nights like this one

Lately he’s been knocking out between eight and nine, which sounds like a good thing—but really isn’t—it only upset the balance.  Cristian used to wake up once a night, upon receiving his bottle, he rolled over and went back to sleep—not anymore.

I’m now staggering down the hall two or three times a night, like a sleepwalker carrying a dog named Lulu (let’s see who gets that reference).  After taking the first bottle, he’s up an hour or two later.  When a second bottle or walking him around doesn’t work, it’s time for my fellow tag-team parent.

Mommy working her magic was once the gold-standard in soothing our cranky baby.   It irritated me a little, but if it got him back to sleep so be it.  Lately Mommy’s magic stopped working, so we’ve resorted to desperate measures.

For the past week we’ve tried exhausting our wired son binge-watching every baby program imaginable, with mixed results.  Some nights we only needed 45 minutes. However other nights we’ve taken turns napping while Cristian turned laps around the living room.

It’s amazing how children change things—once upon a time a sleepless night meant Esther and I went to work slightly exhausted but smiling.  Now it’s just exhausted.

 

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