Daddy and Me

Sometimes I feel bad for my husband. He is a great guy and has been an awesome father. He was with me at every prenatal visit and right by my side throughout my labor. He cut our son’s chord as his eyes filled with tears. He was the one who walked our n503414499_482527_5780son all night long for the first two nights of our son’s life as he cried with colic. He helped my change my clothes and even took care of my postpartum pads. So now when my son cries when his daddy takes him or yells “NO” at him and reaches for me I feel a little sad. I know it is just a stage. I know that I am the “favorite” at the moment because my son and I spend all day every day together. Because I breastfed and have been up with him most of his other waking nights since Daddy went back to work. I can sometimes see a little pain in my husband’s eyes when our son refuses to go to him willingly and instead clings to me. Sometimes I have to force myself not to explain to him that this is “just a stage” once again. That doesn’t help. He isn’t looking for an explanation. His brain already knows; it’s just that sometimes his heart doesn’t remember.

I have noticed a few things about father/son time though. I step in too often. I tend to think since I am here all of the time that daddy needs to do things the way mommy does them and I am seeing that that is just not the case. I need to move over and make room for the relationship that they are developing, the one that I am not a part in. I need to remember that sometimes daddy knows best because he too invested the time to become firmly attached to our son. Now they have to figure out how to work out the kinks in their relationship and as they do they will learn more about each other and grow even closer together. As I have let go more and more and backed up and encouraged my husband in his relationship with our son I have seen some wonderful n503414499_496831_1822things start to happen. Daddy got him to start using the potty. Daddy is the one he wants to read him books. My son asks for daddy every day. They take naps together. They wrestle. They eat sweets and think that they “get away with it” because mommy didn’t find out.

I love my boys and look forward to seeing my son grow in to a wonderful man like his daddy.

Jasmine is a co-housing community living mama with a passion for fierce writing. She blogs.

(These are all photos my hubby and our son as a newborn and at a few weeks old. Our son is now 20 months old.)

Separate but Attached

DSCN2261aI slipped into the apartment at 5 pm, kicked off my sandals, and looked around.  “Where’s the baby?” I asked my husband.

“She’s in the crib.  She cried herself to sleep.”

My heart froze.  “She did what?

He looked as  uncomfortable, unhappy, and upset as I felt.  “She cried from the moment you left until she finally fell asleep.”

I shouldn’t have left the house, I thought.  Without another word, I swept into the bedroom and lifted her out of the crib, holding her tight against my chest and burying my face in her thick, dark hair.  “I’m so sorry, little girl,” I whispered, guilt welling up in my chest, my throat tight as I fought back tears, “I’m so, so sorry.”

My husband walked over and wrapped us both in his arms.  Our daughter woke up, looking up at us, her dark eyes serious and her brow furrowed for a moment with sleepiness.  I felt judged.  Then she smiled, raising a hand and pressing her fingers to my lips, and I smiled in return, gently biting her fingertips to make her laugh.

I felt forgiven.  But there’s still a lump of guilt in my chest every time I think about those words: She cried herself to sleep.

You see, at seven months old, our daughter is going through a serious separation anxiety phase. A lot of the time, I can’t walk away without her starting to whimper and whine, and as soon as I exit her line of sight those little sounds of discontent grow  to full-blown wails.  I never try to slip away from her stealthily; I kiss her forehead and tell her, “Mama will be right back,” before I walk away.  There are things I need to do — use the washroom, get dressed, pour some coffee, feed the dogs — that are infinitely easier and faster without having to hold her in my arms.

When she wants me, she doesn’t want her Daddy.  She doesn’t want her blanket.  She doesn’t want her teddy bear, or to listen to music, or to be read to; she wants her Mama.  Now.  I could be standing on the other side of the gates we use to block off the kitchen, talking to her about what I’m doing, and she’ll start screaming and bashing her hand against the gate because I am not holding her.

But on that day, I had to leave the house.  Right now, my husband is unemployed and so am I; I needed to get out and apply to some jobs.  I made a plan as to where I’d go, plotted out the most time-efficient route between them, and made certain she was nursed and happy before I left.  I knew she’d be upset when I left, but I had no idea that when I walked into the house an hour later, she’d have cried for fifty-five minutes straight as her Daddy tried desperately to comfort her.

She loves her Daddy.  Every few days, they leave the house together for awhile and go out to the park, mall, or library for several hours, and she’s giggling when they leave, just as she is when they return.  They have a great time together!  When we take her to playgroups, she’s the baby wandering everywhere, exploring everything, and greeting everyone, not once looking over her shoulder for her parents.  I know she knows we are always here for her.

So why did she cry so relentlessly, exhausting herself, that day?  What am I supposed to do when I get a job and I need to leave her at home with her Daddy? This guilt, this sickness in the center of my chest, knowing that she suffered, makes me cringe.

Can someone out there help us?