Being a stay at home dad was never in the cards for me growing up. I always had that old fashioned model in my head where the man went to work, and the wife would stay home and take care of the house and the kids. The dynamic has changed where a two person income is almost necessary, but I was pretty determined to make it to a point in my life where I could provide all that we needed so that my children would always have a parent at home to watch over them. Daycare and nannies were never on my mind, it was always too impersonal. I always felt that though it was becoming the norm where the children spent more time with strangers than with their own family, I didn’t want that to ever happen. Little did I ever realize that while I would indeed have a parent to stay home to watch my kid… it would turn out to be me.
That being said, there are so many little things that have happened while taking care of my daughter that I would never have experienced (or at best would only have seen a repeat performance of) if I was the one who was the working parent. Those little accomplishments that we as people take for granted that are so amazing when we see our own children do them for the first time. Things as simple as grasping onto your finger, pulling something off from their face when it’s being covered, picking up their head, or (in my opinion, the greatest moment) when they laugh for the first time. When I get to witness these moments for myself when they’re a first for Rinny, it makes my heart just overflow. It’s funny how something so little can make you feel so happy.
I spend most of my free time now trying to make her laugh. Most of the time it backfires, because she makes me laugh a lot more than I make her. She has these ways of looking at me, or making just the right face at the right moment that just makes me crack up. Of course, I keep on trying, and the reward of her laughter makes me all giddy.
Over the course of the last five plus months (wow… has it been that long already?) I have really re-prioritized how I spend my time. When she was first born, I was still struggling with trying to juggle the time I spent on myself opposed to the time I spent on her. I hate to say it, but I would get annoyed when she would be demanding of my time, even though it’s not like it was on purpose. Admittedly, I can be selfish with my time, because I like to do what I want to do for myself, and I hate to be interrupted, but with a baby, there’s no chance of that. She requires quite a bit of attention, much more than I felt I was willing or able to give, and that was just pulling me apart. On the one hand, I know that her needs have to be met, especially if I want to raise a well adjusted child, but on the other hand… I really want to have a few moments to do what I want so that I can have a clear head. Whether it was talking to friends, playing a game, reading something, or really anything, it all had to be stopped at a moments notice if she needed something, and that was just really hard for me to adjust to.
Now though, I think I’m much more willing to step away from what I am doing to attend to her needs. The good thing about this is that I think we’re forming a stronger bond. She responds to me pretty well, as she reaches for me quite a bit, and I can regularly calm her down if she’s fussy with other people. I think I’m slowly becoming a true safe spot for her, regardless of the circumstances, and that makes me happy and proud. If I can always be her port in the storm, then I know I’ve done my job as a daddy.
I love that I can hold her, hug her, play with her, and just sit with her, and it’s comfortable. She grabs onto my hand, my shirt, my face, my mouth (sometimes my eye… ouch) and is smiling and giggling. I know when she’s happy or frustrated or cranky just by listening to her subtle noises. Every little thing that I realized I have picked up along the way makes me happier, because it means I’m actively learning about my little girl. Some people might say “Well duh… you’re supposed to” but you’d be surprised how many dads don’t know squat about their kid. Hell, how many parents in general. I just want to make sure I know as much about her as possible so that when the time comes, I can be there for her no matter the situation.
Being a stay at home dad has been frustrating at times, but it has also been very fulfilling too. To be honest, I still can’t say it’s the thing for me, because I still feel frazzled with her in a way I’ve never felt while working at a job, but just knowing that I have been somewhat capable so far has shown me that I’m better at adapting than I thought I was. Hopefully, this also means that I’m raising her to be a good person. It’s still early, but I think I’m doing ok… time will tell I suppose.