After becoming a mother I realized how tough it is to be a dad. Sure, you don’t endure nine months of weight gain, skin stretching, and all the other pleasantries of being pregnant. You show up to the hospital and watch someone else do all the work. Easy breezy, or is it?
Whether your wife chose to push that baby out with or without an epidural, or a C-section, you were forced to stand on the sideline and watch someone you love be stronger than you’ve probably ever imagined. You may have seen your wife be slit open right in front of you or you saw a baby larger than a cantaloupe being pushed out.
When delivering my first born, my epidural was great, but I still had some feeling. The baby was coming too quickly so I had to stop pushing to allow my body to “catch up.” At that point I felt it (all you non-epidural users are rolling your eyes at me, I know). I remember I had one tiny tear in my eye and I calmly said aloud, “It hurts.” I remember my husband talking about that after the baby was born — he felt awful because he couldn’t do anything to help.
That leads to lesson two…
Both of my daughters have preferred me, especially during the first year, and my youngest is a little more headstrong about her preference of her mother. As mothers we’ve all encountered a time when the baby screams. Screams at you, screams if you lay them down, screams nonstop. But, usually, we are the ones who can calm them, providing the security of a mother’s touch.
Imagine if all you wanted to do was calm your baby and they want nothing to do with you. They only scream harder. The screams get louder. Then you give the baby to the dad and all cries stop. They smile/coo/fall asleep immediately. This has been my husband’s life the last seven months. I can’t imagine how that would feel; actually I don’t want to know. I know there have been times when he has wanted to care for the baby just to let me get a brief nap, but the baby has other ideas and he’s not part of them.
The father is usually seen as the protector. Protector from monsters or bad guys, rescuer from bad dreams. What do you do if you, the father, are afraid? You swallow your fears to protect your family. Dads don’t get to be scared. Spiders, mice, snakes — he takes care of them all.
This is not the case for everyone, but for me, my husband is the provider. He works long hours, nights, weekends, and holidays to provide for us. At times, we forfeit celebrating holidays together so that he can work to provide for his family. He may miss first steps, first words, and lots of snuggles.
I’ll admit it; my husband is the fun parent. He plays the games, goes on the adventures, and has very few rules. He’s still a kid at heart and I know he loves playing with the kids. After all the sacrifices and the uselessness in the early days, he can play his little heart out while momma watches Ellen and eats all the good snacks.