Bringing Up Baby
I need you to do something for me. I need you to listen (or read) something I’ve got to get of my chest. And since all my money now goes to the J.Crew baby department, you’re the closest I’ll get to a therapist. On the scale of problems, mine is minor, probably greeted with an eye-roll and soft murmurs of sarcasm. But give me a chance. We’re not all perfect. I’m a stay-at-home dad. And it’s driving me crazy. (I saw you roll your eyes!)
On an average day at the grocery store, I can see mothers battling with three or four children under the age of five. And I gasp every time. The situation is so foreign to me, they could all be wearing lederhosen and speaking Swahili and I would still have the same reaction. I have one child that needs constant attention when she’s awake. Turn your back for one minute and she’s splashing in the dog water fountain. Step into the other room for a second and she’s found a dust bunny that demands to be taste-tested. And save us all if she’s placed in a confined area and doesn’t want to be there!
My problems are not real problems. There is a simple joy in watching my (almost) nine-month old as she learns to clap, wave, and stands up on her own, hesitant, but ready, to take her first steps. I’ll be there for them. And that makes me richer than many, I know. But with the amazing also comes the mundane. The deciphering of unknown tears, the mounds of laundry, and keeping up with house cleaning while monitoring my gold-medal-winning speed crawler. I don’t know how folks manage toddlers and infants and babies, all screaming at the same time, demanding the attention of one individual.
Some days I think back to all those women’s studies classes I took in college (I am a liberated homosexual after all), and wonder if there’s an affinity for one gender to be the primary caregiver, and whether my white, male patriarchal upbringing somehow subconsciously embedded a bread-earning mentality in my head. It’s my hope, and my gin and tonic tells me, that it’s simply not the case. That I’m more enlightened than that. I have an amazing family and I’m raising an amazing child. She already hears enough “Waltons,” “Golden Girls,” and “Roseanne” to build the strong character of George Bailey and the sassy self-confidence of Elaine Stritch.
So many people have written on this site about very real, very intense situations they’ve had to face head-on. My biggest situation wakes up at 7:15 in the morning to be fed and then sleeps until around 9:30. We eat, we drive in the car, shop for bargains at our local T.J.Maxx, take numerous cat naps, and single-handedly attempt to destroy the environment with our excessive diaper usage. We’re like every other average family. We even visit the country club every now and then for a swim in the wading pool.
You know, you’re right. I guess I have it pretty good. Thanks for listening. I think you’ve actually helped. Sometimes, we all need a reminder to step back, and look at our lives from a distance. With baby already chomping on an iPad mini, it can be difficult to separate the now we are living from the journey we are traveling. And rest assured, on that journey, we’ll have plenty of filled bottles and diapers to change a nation.