Of Guilt and Parenting

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So last night was better. I was able to coerce “the young one” into sleep in my arms on the couch before 9 p.m. Of course, at 3:30 a.m. when I relieved my wife, he decided he’d had quite enough of sleep and thought how much better it would be to instead, stay up and ingest as much milk as possible, while grunting and rooting around in daddy’s lap with a ferocity to equal Hurricane Andrew.

At 4 a.m., as I sat fairly naked on a cold leather glider (oh yes, the nice Dutallier) trying unsuccessfully to balance not too much milk, not too much pacifier, burping, rocking and staying awake, I’ll admit to having lost my temper. Words were exchanged (well, words and grunts), things were said that I’m not proud of and I generally lost sight of all that is well and beautiful about a newborn. Open conscience, insert guilt here…

Which brings up an interesting point:

If babies are supposed to be such a joy and treasure, why are they so fussy and miserable?

I suppose that once they reach a certain age of self-reliance, you start viewing them as the treasure they really are, but when you’re out in public with your newborn and everyone is oohing and aaahing over him/her, do you ever just wanna hand him over and say, “You like him so much, why don’t you take him for the night?”

It’s weird if you think about it, but that same mom (or dad) who is now sitting there with you smiling and acting all proud of their child, is the same one who just last night, or even an hour ago, was hecticly running around the house gathering up supplies and lamenting the fact that they no longer have any time for themselves (and God forbid “spouse time”).

Is it all a show? Are these people on bulletin boards talking about how precious their little one is and how much they “get off” on being a parent just full of crap? Or did they really get this little angelic bundle of ease that you can only dream of? If so, it’s not fair.

You know, it’s not just the sleeplessness that gets to me. It’s the immersion in everything baby that does it. Get up, feed baby. Go to work. Come home, take baby from spouse and wrestle with him for three hours. Get a few hours of sleep, get up and start again.

At the end of the day, I blame gay men and working women. Oh yes, think about it. Gay men have made “sensitivity” cool and women have made themselves the professional equal to men. However, the problem lies deeper than that. To compete, straight men have adapted. We’ve become sensitive and paternal to the point where we “act” like we want to be just as involved in our child’s rearing as the mom, but the truth is, we really don’t have the wiring for it. Women, on the other hand, have juggled home duties for so long that working professionally is just a natural extension of their everyday duties–it has required no special adaptation for which their body and mind isn’t prepared for.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m selfish and so maybe part of my frustration stems solely from that, but the bald truth is that I simply do not have the patience to be a father to an infant. Oh, I can do it in short stints, but I lack the “patience gene” required to sit for an hour doing nothing more than holding a baby and a bottle. God forgive me if, rather than staying awake half the night wreslting with a baby, I’m better suited to wrestling with the lawnmower. I can’t just “enjoy the moment” when it comes to caring for an infant. In this, my wife wins hands down; no contest.

Here’s to hoping my wife doesn’t want to try for a girl.

Oh, I know it will pass and I know that I’ve already successfully done it once, but that doesn’t make today any easier.


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