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Peeking out from the newborn fog

Mon Oct 23, 2006 The Webgeek 

Hey all,
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.

Some people were moved to reply

mightyt Oct 23, 2006 11:51 AM said:

wow... I neve doubted that you would make a great primary caregiver, but I am super-impressed by all you are doing... a lot more than I managed with a two-week old - I just did baby care, no cooking, cleaning or laundry.. (of course I am spoilt by my partner who did most of that pre-baby too..)

Isn't it fun?? My son is almost 8 months, crawling and climbing like mad, and I now look covetously at newborns, they are so amazing and cuddly..

A belated congratulations to both of you.. we were in England when Gordon saw fit to be born.. the pictures are lovely

hammerfriendM Oct 23, 2006 12:30 PM said:

Congratulations to all three of you! I myself had no doubt at all that Pat and Vicky would both be great parents, I only have to look at how you interact with my kids. Pat, I have to tell you that my partner would understand your plight better than me...I can only talk about the experience I had as the go-to-work mom while my partner stayed home. It is very hard for the world to accept a woman as the secondary caregiver to her children, I still meet this every day (because I frankly never got the promotion to primary even after my partner went back to work). The world still turns to me first- although we are slowly training my kids' schools and others to at least treat us as equals and not ALWAYS phone me or look at me or ask me about the kids. My partner remains the primary caregiver to this day (for the most part) and I think that 99% of people have a problem with that at some level (sometimes even he does)! Anyway, good luck with this journey, I know that you will both love every minute of it, even when you are not liking it very much (it is TOUGH).

amckay Oct 23, 2006 01:39 PM said:

The world is a funny place, because they also don't seem to be very accepting of a stay-at-home mom, either. I know liss76 has been looked-down-upon more than a few times for her decision to stay at home with the kids Unfortunately this seems to more-often-than-not come from supposed "enlightened" individuals.

[Edited By amckay Oct 23, 2006 01:41 PM]

adavidso Oct 23, 2006 01:46 PM said:

They say it takes a village to raise a child... unfortunately we've found that some of the villager comments and advice can be less than constructive! Meeting lots of random people because you have a child/kids can be a double edged sword, although for the most part it's great...

I am also impressed by how much you have gotten done in the first couple of weeks. Maybe you can come over to our place, I'm pretty sure our whole house needs tidying!

liss76 Oct 23, 2006 02:14 PM said:

I vote for "burning the villagers". ;o) The "scorn" amckay alludes to was generally the result of people assuming that I stayed at home because I had the least education (which is true--my employment prospects aren't as fiscally rewarding as his), and making the assumption that "less education" meant "too dumb to get a good job". ;o)

Good for both of you, really--I think it is wonderful that the two of you are able to have someone stay at home. Nowhere is it written that breasts and ovaries preclude being a great at-home parent--I know a number of dads who are actually the more suitable at-home parent in a variety of ways. Sure, there are lots of corners that get cut and sacrifices that get made to ensure a parent can be at home, but I personally feel very strongly that the parents and ultimately the children benefit from the early stability. I don't know how much longer we will be doing it--our oldest started JK this year and the younger will likely start next year--but I'm doing my best to enjoy it while I can!

There will always be people who make inaccurate assumptions--be it a Dad at home or a Mom at home. I have talked to more than a few people who applaud you staying at-home (though I inwardly rolled my eyes when they phrased it as "non-traditional parenting"), and have more interest in Vicky's campaign as a result--being "non-traditional" families themselves.

The first four weeks for both of mine are such a blur in my memory. Enjoy them and take lots of pictures because memory is foggy in the early days. ;o)

skdadl Oct 23, 2006 02:25 PM said:

I really enjoyed that piece, Webgeek, and I'm glad you are enjoying life with Gordon so much. Hugs to Vicky.

Flanders Oct 24, 2006 10:13 AM said:

Good for you, Webgeek. I always knew you two would do great. Try not to take expressions of concerns too personally...I'd ask any new parent, male or female, stay at home or not, how they are doing. It's hard, hard, exhausting work. I've been tired for 9 years. But it's all worth it for those moments you describe...the melting to sleep in your arms, etc...

pamused Oct 24, 2006 11:03 PM said:

well said, webgeek. you sound so incredibly in love! and now that i finally took my germ-y self into gordonland, i can personally attest to the fact that you are TOTALLY ADEPT at this. the way you handle gordon like a restless football looked SO NATURAL. you've got it, kid.

hard to stay steady in the face of surprising, nay offensive, reactions to what you two have chosen to do. you are doing what is right for you, and that's all that matters. i'm sorta with liss76 in calling for the burning of villagers; on the other hand, let 'em watch and learn. exhausting, isn't it, always having to TEACH? especially folks who you'd expect to know better...

ME Oct 25, 2006 10:48 AM said:

As a girl, raised by a single dad (granted he had help from mom up until I was six years old), I can tell you hands down that fathers are at least as good parents as mothers, if not better ( I REALLY love my dad).
I turned out pretty good, a happy, healthy and relatively well-adjusted individual and with a pretty darn strong sense of self. And the magical ability to pick out the good guys from the bad...

Since I grew up in the eighties, my mom was sometimes treated very badly for her decision to leave me behind with my dad, while she moved halfway around the globe for love. My dad of course got lots of props for being 'the good guy' and taking care of me.
Now, my parents made the decision for ME, and her decision for me to have a stable place to grow up and therefore leaving me was probably the hardest thing and the most loving thing anyone has ever done for me.
There are so many single moms out there who never get the understanding and goodwill that my dad enjoyed -- although, he did loose some respect from his co-workers and such, apparently parenting is for sissies -- little do they know...

I for one am superimpressed with anyone who takes on a parenting role, I would probably petrified at even the prospect. You both seem to be doing great so far... yikes.
Gordon is the most perfect little baby, you guys enjoy, and when you get really tired - you know where to go, I'll hook you up ;)

kim Oct 26, 2006 08:24 PM said:

Congratulations a million times to both of you. What a great post!!!!

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