As I write this, I’m sitting at my dining room table while my 18-month-old eats fresh blackberries and watches Sunday morning cartoons. The birds are singing, my cup of matcha is just right and the sun is beginning to break through the palms and flicker in golden patches across my yellow couch.
It’s approaching 6 am.
This is a pretty normal scene for a Sunday morning (or almost any morning) at my house.
Except for one detail I forgot to mention. There’s also a crying, peeing, pooping, 7-day-old newborn upstairs at this very moment flailing his arms and legs on his changing pad as mama is changing his diaper. That peaceful scene I mentioned, it is all in my head. A single moment of peace and quiet in the midst of a hurricane. All purely imagined.
These peaceful moments do come along, but as I think back on them, they feel less real and more like wishful thinking.
Caring for a newborn and a toddler at the same time is no easy task. It’s been a long night (and week) for all of us, not getting much sleep and trying to figure out how this new life works. Hopefully we’ll soon achieve some form of harmony in the routine again.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not and never will be complaining. But my reasoning for not complaining might actually surprise you.
It’s not just because that my growing family is possibly the best gift I’ll ever receive in this lifetime. It’s not just that I have experienced a new wellspring of love that’s more powerful than any love I’ve ever felt.
It’s not that look of excitement in my toddler’s eyes when I take him to the swimming pool or the kid’s museum. It’s not the soft, sweet cooing of my one-week-old as I hold him for a few quiet moments.
It’s not even seeing my beautiful wife every day and getting to conspire with her on one of the most fulfilling projects we’ll ever work on together.
The reason I’m not complaining is because I get to experience all of this, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the next two months, and beyond.
Being able to spend this time at home with my family is absolutely priceless.
I know I’m in the minority as a stay-at-home dad or SAHD. Unpaid leave is not an option for most dads, particularly in a single-income home where dad earns the dough. Paid paternity leave is a policy that only a few progressive companies offer.
As I said, I’m part of a minority here. But to look at it another way, I’m also part of a growing group of dads who are talking about these issues. One that’s helping raise awareness about a dad’s role. The father figure is just as vital and important as the mother when it comes to raising a happy, healthy, well-adjusted child. It’s better for the family unit when both parents are actively present parents, which is in turn better for our society as a whole.
It’s my hope to get more people resonating on that frequency and open up to the possibility that another way is possible.
Fatherhood is a privilege, and it is a privilege to spend time with family, especially newborn children. Those of us that get this time at home are the lucky ones. I am definitely in that category.
I’m honored to be at home with my sons and share in the experience of adjusting to a growing family. When MamaRush heads back to work in 7 short weeks, I might be singing a different tune. “Help! I need somebody, Help! Not just anybody…” but we’re plotting for that adjustment now. The challenges will keep on coming, but I’m one ready, lucky papa. And I’m ready for anything this new way of life can throw my way.
If you’re a new dad looking for like-minded guys like me, here’s a few great places to look:
The Good Men Project (@goodmenproject)
Dad 2.0 Summit (Dad2Summit)
City Dads Group (@CityDadsGroup)
Dad’s Round Table (@DadsRoundTable)
Fathers Forum (@FathersForum)
Note to readers: there’s probably tons more groups I don’t know about so if you’re reading this and know of one or two, tell me in the comments!
Photo courtesy of Unsplash