More Rules for Letting Daddy Learn How to Father
Last week, I gave tips for new breastfeeding mamas to help their partners when it seems that breastfeeding is the only way to soothe the baby. Now, to address more mama complaints (and to offer solutions!):
“He gets up to help me at night, but he ends up just staring at me and nodding off.”
Then give him something to do. Do you really need him to be awake and watching you breastfeed at 2:00 am? If you do, pop on the TV together or talk with him to help keep you awake. Otherwise, wake him up when you actually need him—to bring the baby to you to nurse or to take the baby after nursing for “processing.” You don’t need to both be awake at the same time. It is a waste of precious time when you could be tag-teaming that baby.
Here’s what can work really well:
Baby fusses to be fed. Mom wakes up and gets the baby to be fed, dad grunts, rolls over, and goes back to sleep. Mom feeds baby while reading this blog to keep her awake 😉 . Once feeding is over, mom elbows dad and tells him baby is fed and ready for post-feed processing. Mom gets up, pees, and goes back to sleep while dad changes baby’s diaper, swaddles, and rocks baby back to sleep. In the meantime, mom is starting to doze back off.
“He doesn’t even know where the baby’s pajamas are kept! I mean, how long has he been living here?”
My husband still doesn’t know where Lucy’s pajamas are kept. Get over it. If you really want him to know where the pajamas are kept, label the drawer or put him in charge of putting away pajamas…but then you won’t know where the pajamas are kept. Touché!
“It is like his life hasn’t changed at all. He still gets to do everything he wants to do and I just stay at home with the baby.”
This is an issue of resentment. Men are really good at self-care. It simply comes naturally to them. If they want to take a shower, they do. If they need a night out, they take it. Almost all papas are sweet enough to ask first. The key is not in the fact that he has the audacity to ask, the key is in the way you respond and how you feel afterwards.
So, it goes like this:
He says, “Hey, hon, the guys from work are going out after work on Friday for the game. I would actually really like to go since I haven’t been out with them in a while, but I understand if you want me to come home right away.” (Awww. What a sweetheart).
What he is thinking: Exactly what he just said.
You say, “Yeah, go ahead.”
What you are thinking: “What an asshole. You are going to leave me here with the baby in the evening right when she gets the fussiest even though I was alone with her all day. Must be nice to just do whatever you want. I wouldn’t know. I am stuck here with this baby all the time. I have been wearing the same underwear for three days and I smell like crumbled blue cheese. But if you need your time with your boys, you go ahead.”
You will proceed to be a bitch to him for the next three days and he will be completely baffled by this since you said it was okay for him to go. This, as I have gathered from male stand-up comedy, is why men think women are crazy.
I say this with love, mama, although it may be hard to hear:
The real problem here is that you resent him for taking care of himself and having a life because you don’t do either of those things. You don’t let yourself. Rather, you play the martyr role, you don’t ask for help, and you don’t take the initiative to make it any better.
You have a few choices:
- You can tell him it is okay to go out with his friends with a happy and loving heart because you want him to have good self-care, too. Even better, you can offer a trade. Let him know you will be pumping a bottle and sticking it in the fridge for him to give to the baby at 7:00 on Saturday morning. You will be sleeping in.
- You can tell him it is okay to go out with his friends in a bitter and resentful way and continue to stew in your stinky pot of self-pity. He will be sure to stay out extra late and sleep late the next morning because he wants to avoid you because you are mean and grumpy. (Sorry, it is true).
- You can tell him no, he has to stay home, out of pure spite. Now, you are making sure that neither of you has good self-care.
- You can tell him that this time, you really need him to come home and stay with you and baby because you’ve had a particularly stressful week. If you do this, though, be sure you give him an opportunity to do something for himself another time. Saying “no” every time he wants to do something to take care of himself will only breed resentment.
If you are lucky enough to have a partner, then be sure you are using it to your full advantage. A partnership means that you share the workload and the joy of parenting. You love and care about one another enough to make sure each of you is caring for yourself, each other, the baby, and the home.
Since we cannot change others’ behavior, only our own, I ask you:
How are you going to make sure that your baby’s daddy is also your partner?