Peeking out from the newborn fogMon Oct 23, 2006 The Webgeek
It's the Webgeek here. Sorry for the long delay in writing a new entry, but life here at the Finishing School is all baby all the time right now -- at least for me. Wee Gordon is now officially two weeks old as of yesterday, and I must say that I'm pretty smitten with the little guy.
Last week was, without a doubt, both the single longest and and single happiest week of my life. Any lingering doubts I had about my potential parenting skills, or toward the decision to be a stay at home dad have gone by the wayside. Yes, I did have doubts -- as any first time parent must -- that I might not be able to rise to this particular challenge. Despite the preemptive reassurances by friends and family that they were all "sure I'd be a great dad", I still had small fears that maybe they were just being polite. (I mean, really, who actually tells an expectant father to their face that "Dude, your gunna SUCK at being a parent"?) This last week, however, has taught me otherwise.
So far I've almost mastered the difference between the "I'm hungry" cry, the "I'm cold and cranky" cry and the all important "I'm stewing in my own filth over here" cry; I'm a whiz (some pun intended) at the diaper change; baby bath time is second nature to me now; I seem to have the magic "burp" touch; and Gordie just melts away into slumber in my arms, no matter how supremely ticked off he was previously. Not only that, I've actually done 90% of the meal time planning, prep and cooking (restaurants and family & neighbours with care packages have done the rest); I'm now king of the laundry (I even read washing instructions and everything); and tidying up *the whole house* is now wilfully part of my daily routine. Even more amazing is, I am enjoying it. It actually feels great to be able to 'keep house'. My excitement toward being a stay at home dad is now ten-fold. It'll be tough, I know -- and this week has taught me that too -- but I honestly think I'll be able to wear the title of 'homemaker' with pride.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not looking for some parental badge of honour here. I know what I'm doing is your basic primary caregiver stuff. People have being doing this for years without fanfare. Nothing truly special about it really.
Well, except for the fact that I, the parent with the stubby Y chromosome, am doing these familial feats. It's that, relatively small, difference that seems to be hard for a lot of people to accept. Whenever Vicky and I would tell people that I would be the stay at home parent, it was almost always met with a semi-surprised "wow". Even now, when we run into people on the street, they seem to take special care to ask me "How are *you* doing?" in a concerned tone -- like I should be near the point of unravelling; barely able to hold it together. In talking to volunteers and supporters of Vicky's campaign we do hear (mostly third party) 'concerns' from them that we are somehow being slightly bad parents by not having Vicky be primary caregiver. People who have never met me are automatically assuming I can't be as good a parent as Vicky, who they also barely know, simply because I am male.
You know what. That sucks.
It shouldn't be a shock that I, a male, can have domestic tendencies: but it is. It really shouldn't come as a shock that I, a male, have actual parental instincts and child rearing skill: but it is. I really shouldn't be getting fawning accolades of being 'a great father' for simply doing what 'traditionally' comes naturally to female parents: but I do. And people really shouldn't make the automatic assumption that it'll be 'hard for Vicky' to go to work with a newborn at home with dad: but they do. It won't be hard for her, because she will be safe in the knowledge that her child -- my child -- our child -- will be cared for as lovingly and carefully and positively as humanly possible by her partner.