There’s no ‘I’ in team…
I’m back… and I’m sure you’ve all missed me terribly. Yes, all three of you dear, dear readers.
To explain my absence, my Daddy experience now extends to two children. Boy number two was born in early April and after two blissful weeks of paternity leave spending time with the new arrival, my older son (still not used to saying that!) and my wife – I’m back.
I’m back at work, I’m back writing my blog and back leaving the largest share of the childcare to my hardworking wife. Despite huge waves of love and adoration for the new arrival (let’s call him ‘S’ for ease of writing); renewed love for older son ‘B’ (babies are great but two-year-olds are so much more interactive!) – my wife is vying to be top of the tree herself.
There’s nothing like the wonder of childbirth to refresh your memory about just how fantastic a woman can be. I’ll spare her the embarassment of sharing the details online but suffice to say: she was nails. Massive amounts of respect due and (I hope) delivered.
Team work – it works
So, now I’ve gone back to work the home dynamic has changed quite a lot. For the first time, my wife is now outnumbered. During that fantastic two weeks of paternity leave it was two-on-two. Two kids, two adults. If ‘S’ needed feeding, I could tackle the needs of ‘B’. If ‘B’ wanted some mummy-time, I could hold on to ‘S’ for a cuddle.
There were numerous times during that two weeks where the rose tint to everything was blurred when the thought of “What will my wife do in this situation when she’s outnumbered?” Like times at the park when I’d have ‘S’ in the papoose and ‘B’ would make a beeline for the gate/road. No problem during parternity-heaven – wife could just trot after him and bring him back. As parents will remember, running with a newborn strapped to you in a papoose is a little like running with your trousers around your ankles. Clumsy and slow.
Thank heavens my wife is a wonder. She has taken it all in her stride and, to his credit, so has ‘B’. After a tough adjustment period and getting very Daddy-clingy he’s adapting to being an older brother really well.
So where does the team-work element come into it? Even writing this I’m doubting myself – it seems (and feels) that at times my wife is doing it all. Ok, if not all then a lot.
Fellow Dads – it doesn’t have to be this way. No, nature has not endowed us with the assets required to tackle those middle-of-the-night feeds. We all know if He (or She, or it?) had we’d spend a lot more time ‘on our own’.
I like to think I weigh in. My wife does (and, thanks to nature has to) tackle most of ‘S’s’ through-the-night requirements. So in the day (at weekends and when I’m around) I tackle as much of ‘S’s’ needs as I can. Nappy changes; rocking to sleep; walks; chats; cuddles – those things. Sure – sometimes only a boob will do. But otherwise I give it my best shot.
Also – my job means I come back late a couple of times a week. Those are long days – for all of us. But despite slogs on trains, battles with colleagues etc. I try to remind myself that since I left that morning (usually waking up ‘B’ on the way) my wife has been juggling two under-3s all day, without a lunch break, tea break, sneaky browse of the BBC website/that new game doing the rounds on email etc.
I get home from work, usually in time for story time (a great treat) and then I insist my wife takes the evening off. I cook dinner; put some washing on; hang the laundry up; do the washing up; take care of as many of ‘S’s’ needs as I can and get my wife a glass of wine/newspaper/blanket etc. to aid her transition from ‘family survival mode’ (aka ‘being a Mum’) to relaxed wife mode.
I don’t get it right all the time – not even my wonderful wife does. But I get it as right as I can. She often ruins my plans herself, insisting she has this one chore she “Just has to do…”
It’s important to remember that we’re on the same team. Not that the opposition are our kids (though at times it feels like it!) but that we have to pull together. What our kids need is two parents at their best. A fresh and bouncing Daddy with a knackered Mummy is no good. Two parents (moderately) well-rested is much more fun for everyone.
It’s a team game – sometimes you need to make some smart substitutions to win.