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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Daddy Duty

December was a big one for my husband. The big being he turned 40 just a few days before what was made an even bigger deal - our son's first Christmas. I felt terrible that he didn't get to 40 in our usual "turn it up" fashion. Had it not been the year of the baby, we probably would have had a big turn-down throw-down with live music, revelry and a full day of hang-over hanging out meticulously planned. But things have changed - for the better, of course - and "this is 40" turned out to be a co-soiree at a local Indian restaurant with our dear friends and a ridiculously over-priced vat of hummus. My husband was a good sport about it all. He didn't have high expectations. He never really does. "I'm a middle child with a birthday that falls too close to Christmas. It's not a big deal," he said (if that doesn't break your heart!). He also celebrated his birthday with a surprise visit from the health inspector to the candy factory. Those are always fun when you're in food manufacturing. 

I've been home with the baby boy for over a week now and have a week to go. I'm beyond grateful for the time I have with him and try to soak up each bit like a piece of crusty bread in olive oil. But there are moments I get a little loco. There, I said it. I may not be completely cut-out for 24/7 of the baby channel. And lately, it's been full-on 24. His sleeping patterns have been out of whack since he started teething a month ago and we've may or may not have created some bad bed habits . . . Needless to say, they are starting to bite me in the butt (more like the boob, but the pun is well intended). 

Sometimes, I get a little jealous of the maternal versus the man-ternal. Take nipples, for example. A man can do pretty much whatever he wants to with his nipples. He can jog shirtless. He swims shirtless. The beach is full of topless men. And society doesn't give a damn, even though his nipples have absolutely nothing functional to do! But a woman . . . We can't even have a nip slip without shutting down a Super Bowl. And what's even more baffling is that our fully functioning nipples are still considered offensive by some, even when feeding a child and sustaining life before our eyes. 

And speaking of sustaining life, women are the world's incubators, wrecking our bodies with nine months of captivity before however-many hours of hard labor it takes to bring that life onto Planet Earth. Meanwhile and often-meaning well, men can coach and squeeze hands and wipe brows and tell us we're doing a good job while walking out of the hospital physically unscathed and just as much of a parent as the one who did ALL the work. 

Can you tell I'm just a little bitter when it comes to male anatomy?

My husband and I agreed early on to never say he's "baby-sitting." Parents don't baby-sit. Sure, we watch our children while the other is free to turn their attention on something else. But moms don't baby-sit. And dads shouldn't either. He also doesn't do me any favors when he changes our son's diaper, feed him a bottle, comfort him when he cries or spends time playing with him. That's just what you do when you have a child. It's one thing to be a father. But dads are equal partners. 

Do I sound like a harsh house wife? The thing is, I am not a house wife. Just like my husband, my child isn't my job. We both have jobs. We both are making a living to provide for our family. And at the end of the day, we are all one family. Despite a few physical attributes that prevent us from completely sharing ALL of the baby duties, he does a darn good job at making up from where anatomy left off.

In fact, he practically pushed me into the car and off to the coffee shop so I could get some personal "office" time. I was practically weepy with a mix of separation anxiety and gratitude. And here I am, spending that me time thinking about us - we - as a family.

Jamie received this cross-stitch for Christmas this year. His mother made it for his grandfather, who has long been gone but still remains a huge influence on his grandson even today. This sentimental gift meant more to Jamie than any of his other presents. He said he used to stare at it all of the time when it was at his grandfather's house. Now he gets to look at it daily at our own home, with his own son who will notice it as well. 

As this year comes to a close, I mark down on my list of gratitudes that I didn't just deliver a baby to Jamie for him to become a father. Our son came into this world so Jamie could be a daddy. Even though my husband is a middle child with a birthday that falls in the middle of Christmas, he's still something special of a daddy.

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