Monday, May 11, 2009

In Praise of Daddy

In honor of Mother's Day, I would like to spend some time in praise of S, LL's wonderful daddy. Just a few of the reasons why S is awesome:

S shares nighttime duty with me, and he has since LL was very very little. For the first several weeks, when I was recovering from my c-section and couldn't lift LL out of his bassinet very easily, S got up at night every time LL and I did, until I was able to handle the nighttime feedings by myself. Later, S spent several weeks acting as nighttime first-responder, comforting LL when he cried at night, to try to put him back to sleep without needing to eat. More recently, now that LL is on bottles, and doesn't eat at night very often, S and I alternate nights being "on duty." (I still wake up even on S's nights, but I don't have to get out of bed. Thus, neither one of us is exactly well-rested, but at least neither of us are dying of extreme exhaustion, either.)

S has never been afraid to change diapers, and I would guess that we're pretty close to 50-50 on splitting this duty. I was a little worried about this before LL was born, because S is a bit of a neat freak, and I was worried that he would try to avoid dirty diapers. But, it turns out that S's sense of responsibility outweighs his squeamishness. Also, I think that he views the perfecting of cloth-diaper-folding-and-fastening as an engineering challenge. We have very few diaper blow-outs at our house.

S is amazing at soothing LL. Several of my friends can't go out at night, or even leave their babies/toddlers at home with Daddy for stretches during the day, because their husbands "can't do bedtime." S and I were both a little horrified by this thought early on (really? Dad doesn't know how to put his own kid down for a nap?) and we went to semi-extreme measures to make sure that LL was happy being comforted by S. S got off to a good start because he was the most amazing swaddler in the whole world, and he's still better at getting LL to go down for a nap than I am. For bedtime, we both know the routine, we each do different parts of it on different nights, depending on who wants to do what, and we've each done the whole routine alone when necessary. (I've never missed a bedtime, but there have been a few nights when I was cooking dinner during bedtime, and just popped in for a book and kisses while S did everything else.) I have no doubt that S and LL would be fine if I needed to leave them home alone together for an extended period of time.

S does ~75% of LL's laundry. Including folding it. But, oddly, not putting it away. He's worried about messing up my organizational system. As if I have an organizational system for LL's laundry beyond "The stuff in this drawer fits. Burp cloths go over there."

S washes bottle parts and baby spoons. He sterilizes pacifiers. I think the only thing that he has never done for LL is food preparation. (He hates hates hates grocery shopping, so he has never bought baby food, and he hasn't attempted any of the homemade baby food recipes.) But, he makes up for it by taking the lead on making bottles. And S helps to feed LL breakfast several days a week, so he still gets to experience the joy of pureed veggies at the consumption phase. (I still have to do all the dinner feedings, because S doesn't get home from work in time for LL's dinner.)

And, of course, there's playtime. S roughhouses with LL, and always knows how to make him giggle. He snuggles with him in bed. They play with blocks together. They read books. S takes LL for walks in his ergo carrier. I can't fully describe how awesome it is watching the two of them together.

Most importantly, it's obvious how much S enjoys being with LL. When S gets home from work, he swoops in to play with LL, and more often than not, takes care of most of LL's needs for the rest of the evening, all the way until bedtime. Which is really nice for both of us -- I get home from work between 3:30 and 4:30, so I play with LL and take care of him alone until S gets home around 6:15, and then S gets to spend some quality time, too, before bedtime at 7:00.

I worry sometimes that we won't be able to keep splitting responsibilities going forward. A lot of kids go through an "I want Mommy!" phase, where they insist on mommy doing everything. (Sometimes there's a "Just Daddy!" phase, too, but they're usually rarer and shorter.) And I wonder sometimes how much of our ability to share responsibilities like diaper changes and bedtime are because LL is laid back enough to not care which of us is there. But for now, we're kind of enjoying being somewhat interchangeable for LL.

With the possible exception of middle-of-the-night responsibilities, before we had a good routine down, S and I have never really had arguments about taking care of LL. Things are definitely not perfectly equal, with an exact 50-50 split of responsibilities, but that's not really the goal. I'm home with LL more than S is, so I end up doing more. And there are things that I'm particular about, so I do them. And while I wish that S came home from work a little earlier (I end my work day a full hour or two earlier than I'd like to, but he he still works basically the same hours that he did before LL was born, sometimes walking in the door right as bedtime is starting) there's no task that I can point to and say, "I wish S did that for LL more often." He's a fantastic father, a fantastic partner, and the love of my life.

Also, for Mother's Day, he let me sleep in and he made me pancakes. I love that guy.

5 comments:

Amanda@Lady Scientist said...

That was very sweet. S sounds like a wonderful father! And any guy who lets you sleep in and feeds you pancakes is a winner. :-)

Jen said...

You're a lucky girl!

CJ said...

That's awesome that you two share so much of the childcare duties! He sounds like a great hubby and a wonderful father.

Fertilized said...

Wonderful tribute to S. Sounds like Our Hubbies are cut from the same mold. My husband soes share responsibilities and enjoys them (most of them)

Happy mother's day to you

Jennifer said...

Wow, what a great mother's day daddy post...he sounds like a great daddy!