When we went to ante-natal classes, they had one session devoted to The Father’s Role. One of the things that stood out for me was that they dealt with the father’s feeling of useless-ness during the birth; the desperation they felt when listening to their partner in pain and not being able to do anything. The midwives taking the course flipped this on its head to make it about honouring the process, giving the mother and baby the space they needed, focussing on the fact that our body is made for this, it’s natural, it’s what needs to happen.
My husband’s super power is that he has taken this on board and used it throughout our family life. He is deeply respectful of the relationship between mother and baby and he does everything he can to support it.
When I was breastfeeding hungry infants throughout the night, he would get up and make me hot drinks, cut up apples, get me hot-water-bottles. When I was at the end of my tether with tiredness, he would take on another chore of mine, to free up my energy to be with the baby. When I was crying because the baby was crying he was there, sometimes crying too, which was all I needed. He made me countless cups of tea so that I could sit in the kitchen arm-chair with a sleeping baby on my lap and not have to move. He’s brought me the lap top to watch movies on, books to read, socks to put on, and cakes to eat, all so that I could keep still enough as to not wake the baby.
As the babies have grown into toddlers and children, his support has changed, but never wained. He’s taken all of my theories in his stride. Every time I read a new parenting book I’m sure he disappears to do a quick meditation to cope with all the new ideas I will have about what we’re doing. And then he takes on board what I’m saying, and we try it out to see if it works.
His role with the kids has changed too – evolved is probably a better world. Just as I no longer breastfeed all night long, he no longer needs to cut up apples in the middle of the night. He is home for weeks at a time and for many intents and purposes just steps in and takes over the home making roles, and I get to take a back seat, stay in bed til 10, write blog posts, theorise more. I am grateful I have a partner in this parenting journey who shares the responsibility so naturally.
Ron and I were talking about Fathers’ Day last night, and I brought up that ante-natal session, and about how he was really good at just getting the fuck out of the way and supporting in a back-stage kind of manner the natural process. He laughed and said that Getting the Fuck Out of the Way was an interesting way to celebrate fatherhood, and one he thought men might not have considered. 🙂
Here’s a shout out to all the fathers of small babies out there. Keep up the support!! In a few years you’ll be their sun and moon and stars all rolled into one.