Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fathering with Kid Gloves

I always enjoy watching, or listening, to my husband deal with both of our children on his own. Add in a couple of baseball bats, and the entertainment value goes through the roof.

Having twins meant that my husband had to be involved from day 1. Actually, he became very involved during week 29 of my pregnancy, when my doctor sternly told me, “You’re on bed rest.” I’ve never been very good at slowing down, but bed rest was the perfect way to make sure that I cooked our kiddos as long as I could. I listened to the doctor and stayed in bed and on the couch. It wasn’t hard because I was physically unable to do much besides watch TV. Dr. Phil and I became good friends during that summer. My husband and I… well, let’s just say after one big fight, we learned to be co-parents.

Bed rest wasn’t easy for him because he had to adjust his schedule overnight. He had to come home early from work to take care of me since I had to continue eating for three, but I wasn’t allowed to cook for myself. He had to take care of many of the household tasks because I was confined to the couch and bed. He had to do the shopping because I didn’t know about online grocery services at the time. In short, he had to become a wife, and this new role was challenging.

In hindsight, bed rest was the perfect preparation for having twins. I learned to accept help from other people, and he learned to pitch in. By the time our bundles arrived at the end of the summer, he had adjusted to being a caretaker, and with two infants in the house, he had to be involved from day 1. On that first day in the hospital, when I was still confined to the bed from my c-section, he heroically offered to change our son’s meconium diaper. Having never changed a real, live, squirmy infant before, he watched intently as the nurse donned gloves, disassembled the diaper, cleaned the baby, and re-diapered him. The next time one of the two needed changing, he was ready to jump in. Following exactly what the nurse had done, he donned gloves…

I didn’t say anything, but smiled as he worked his way through his first (of many) diaper changes. Our pediatrician wasn’t so sweet. When she saw him putting on the gloves at the next diaper change, she said, “Dad, why are you wearing gloves to change a diaper? Do you know how many diapers you are going to need to change? You can’t seriously tell me you intend to wear gloves for all those????” I smirked behind him, knowing my entertainment at watching him be a daddy had just begun.

Because he is such an attentive dad and so worried about doing things “right,” I’ve never felt uncomfortable leaving him alone with both kids. His willingness to do so over the last two years has given me time to myself, time to work, or time to nourish my friendships. When they were infants, he introduced them to the Mets, our favorite baseball team, and he engaged them with toys, tunes, and books. Now that the kids are able to play happily alone, he will often watch them in the basement play area while he works out across the room. Sometimes he will take them for an hour or two in their room upstairs, playing cars or reading books, and it makes me smile to hear him interacting with them as they learn and grow. I frequently, however, have to roll my eyes when he sends one or the other to Mama for a “new diaper.”

Yesterday he handled the kids outside while I wrote a check for the tax man, another one of my household managerial duties. When I joined them in the backyard, they were practicing their “home run grips” and hitting balls off a tee. I watched quietly from the sideline for a while, unnoticed in the commotion, as my husband jumped over a flying ball, ducked two little bats, safely rescued my daughter from the harsh swing of my son, replenished balls on the tee, and altered their grips to perfection. It was amusing – and it was beautiful. A dance only a loving father can perfect.

So while I would never attempt to do what he did – two toddlers with baseball bats in the same five foot radius – I do appreciate that he did it. I also appreciate that when I send the kid back to him with the dirty diaper, he will change it – without gloves.

1 comment:

  1. That first paragraph sounds so sadistic, at first.