Inspired by father’s day, this week’s chat at YogaBubs has centred on new dads. After 11 years of father’s day I think we have got it right. He lies in until 11am, and I don’t make him feel guilty. Then I manage to cook a bacon sandwich with the evil… white bread, and I don’t make reference to the sacrilege. Usually we do something fun, this year Bewilderwood, followed by Sunday roast out. That, and a hand-made card from my 6 year old son with the words ‘Daddy you are my heart’ and a pac-man light made in technology for him by my 11 year old daughter. Wowsers. Perfect Father’s Day.
I remember the early ones. The first year was simply odd, a card that I wrote in ‘from Megan’. It felt weird, it did! The only father’s day card before that had been for my dad, and that’s a whole different audience! I remember feeling a little grumpy, dismissive even. As new parents we were struggling, I was so sleep deprived, and the thought of giving up a Sunday snooze to give to him was tough. I had Megan all day every day, by Sunday I was broken and needed full on help, I was supposed to give him a day off! Humph.
Poor James. I missed the point.
But, at that time, the truth is, I thought dads got it pretty easy. His life didn’t change anywhere near as much as mine. He still went to work, he drank alcohol, and frankly he didn’t have any breasts. Babies want their mums. So then, without really meaning to, I got all possessive over Megan. It was I who knew the secret lullaby that calmed her, I knew how long to wind her and in what particular hold and at what precise angle, I alone held the surreptitious knowledge on how long to put my hand on her belly in her cot to lull her back to sleep.
At a time when I needed him the most, frankly I pushed him out for a while, and told him over and over how he was getting it wrong.
Men are funny creatures, when they feel under threat, or defensive, they do one of two things – they can’t help it, it’s the cave man in them – they either withdraw and retreat, or they stand-fast and bite back.
Negotiation after having a baby between a couple can be tough. There are new rules, shifts in power, struggles to gain new attentions in different ways. In my experience it takes the choreography of a whole new style of dancing, initially dancing a tango as opposed to a waltz. It’s taken us years to get to a more harmonious dancing, to learn who is leading at what point, and with which foot.
I can now, with the lusciousness of hindsight, look back and I see that James, at all times, in his own weird and difficult way sometimes, his aim was always to help. Not actually to piss me off. Although he did piss me off at times. But he kind of couldn’t help it. His masculine hormones and beta brain way of seeing the world, along with the shifting evolving negotiations of new parenting, new rules to the game, were too tricky to understand and too much for him to handle. And to be fair, often this was often the case for me too.
Ironically I also look back on the first three months with our new babies as the most special and loving time in our entire twenty year relationship. He was so giving, so supportive, he tried so very very hard. He held our baby through the night to let me get some sleep, he brought me dinner in bed, he washed my hair when I was sharing a bath with our baby, he turned around and came home when he was on his way to a football match because Megan was so sick all over me from head-to-toe I sobbed and sobbed over the phone… He was totally amazing.
At tricky times it’s hard to remember all the good stuff. But this is the time when we need to see it the very most. Take some time out and visualise it, focus on the help he gives you, the smallest thing that made you happy, the way he did that thing, so naturally, just right. Be aware of not pointing it out too often when he does ‘the wrong’, but really really point it out when he does ‘the right’. He’ll get the idea, you both will, and father’s day will just get better and better as you thank him for being so wonderful. And indeed, he will certainly not be perfect, just like you, but he will indeed be wonderful. So wonderful, that instead of begrudging a lie-in and a bacon sandwich you will actually enjoy giving it to him. Happy Father’s Day to all dads out there who simply do their best and Happy Father’s day to my James.
I love you. x