Monday, 22 October 2012
In praise of good daddies
I’ve come to realize that every now and then, something happens that changes the way you do things as a parent. Whether it is intentional or not, from one day to the next, things are just different. For example, your child discovers something new and becomes hooked on that so you start using it as a bargaining tool (ahem, Elmo). Or one day they decide that brushing their teeth is no longer something they want to do. Or maybe they want to brush their teeth all the time. Or maybe it’s the point where you have to start smothering all their food in cheese. Regardless, there are these bizarre pivotal parenting moments, sometimes big, sometimes small. But usually they become a game changer in your daily routine.
Last week, I went away on my first overnight business trip since returning to work from maternity leave. It was the first time my husband was responsible and alone in caring for our son for more than 8 hours. He had to do the daycare pickup and drop-off, bath, dinner, bedtime, breakfast, etc… by himself. Of course I had full confidence in his abilities and no issues leaving him alone. As expected, everything went very well and they both had a great two days together.
What I didn’t expect was that when I returned from this trip, I would no longer be capable of putting my son to bed.
As my loyal readers know, bedtime has never been easy with my son. We’ve always followed the whole bath-books-lullabies routine, but I’ve always had to rock him to sleep, usually to the point of being comatose, before I could put him down in his crib. Anything else usually resulted in whining and tears while he reached out to me with puppy dog eyes. Lately, my husband has been challenging the routine because my son is simply getting too big to be rocked to sleep, and it’s time for him to learn to fall asleep on his own. I know plenty of people are probably rolling their eyes, thinking that it should have been that way from the start, but trust me when I tell you I’ve tried it all and had resigned myself to the fact that I would be rocking him to sleep forever.
Suddenly, however, Daddy seems to have the magic touch. He simply reads my son his stories, turns out the lights, puts him down in the crib and walks away. And there is never a peep of protest from my son, who promptly conks out in his bed.
When I learned this was finally working, I was so excited. Surely if my husband could do this, so could I!
I tried. I really did. But when I came back from that business trip, I could not for the life of me, successfully put my kid to bed. Even when I resorted back to trying to rock him to sleep, it didn’t work. As tired as he was, he would just fight sleep, bounce back up and try to manipulate me into keeping him awake. One night, after an hour of attempting to get him to sleep, I left him in tears in his crib, fighting my own tears of frustration. My husband heard the tears and went to see my son. Within less than a minute, he re-emerged from the bedroom where my son was now quietly putting himself to sleep. WTF!?
At that moment, we agreed that for now, bedtime would no longer be a shared responsibility. This is now my husband’s territory. But I live in fear and frustration of the next time that he won’t be home and I’ll have to do this myself. How long will it take and at what cost? Oh well, time will tell. Anyway, in the meantime, I will simply try to enjoy having this responsibility removed from my plate and let my husband enjoy his newfound power.
Even before becoming the bedtime baby whisperer, my husband has always been a great dad. I have to give credit where credit is due. He loves spending time with our son and they have a blast playing together, something I think will only get better as he gets older and they can do even more together. He’s the one who managed to get our son to enjoy bath time. He always works hard to make sure we’re eating delicious food that even a toddler will love. And as a husband, he is supportive of me as a mother and tries to always give me the time that I need for myself.
In other words, he’s a rock. And a star. A rock star dad. So for once, I’m taking a time out to give a shout out to a man who is both a wonderful husband and father. Thank you. Love you.
(He better read this.)