On Father’s Day, I thought I’d dedicate this column to the dads. In my past columns you’ve read about my breastfeeding woes, the mourning of the loss of child-free holidays, and the anxieties of becoming a new parent, all with little mention of my husband - AKA Greta’s Dad.
But let me tell you now, he’s been very present in reality – he’s mopped up poop explosions in the small hours, fetched more muslin cloths than you would have thought possible, paced up and down our apartment a thousand times with a crying baby on his shoulder and - just like movie star The Rock, who recently shared a photo of himself feeding his partner dinner as she nursed their baby - he’s shovelled porridge and poured coffee into my mouth on many a morning.
You see, we as women believe that we get the bum – or should I say, bump – deal. Our husbands don’t have to spend every waking moment of the first trimester feeling sick to their skull, nor do they have to carry the weight of a watermelon for the best part of nine months. And without stating the obvious, they don’t have to push said watermelon-sized item out, either. However, growing and carrying a baby for almost a year creates an unconditional bond between mother and baby, a bond that fathers have to work hard to create. In effect, we mothers get a nine-month head start.
In those early weeks, Greta wanted to nestle only on my chest and would only be soothed by me, which left Greta’s dad feeling useless and frustrated. Sometimes even just a look at her daddy would send her into a lip-wobbling meltdown. Now, a few months later, he’s Greta’s favourite person in the world, but I think if I was in his shoes during those early days I’d have found it pretty rough to deal with.
Not only are fathers given the cold shoulder by their own baby, they also have to leave their wife and offspring a mere three days after the birth to return to work in accordance with UAE paternity regulations for the public sector. Luckily my husband’s employers were far more understanding and gave him two weeks, but even after that special fortnight together, there were tears from all three of us on his first day back in the office.
It’s only as we lead up to Greta’s Dad heading off on a five-day work trip, that I’ve recognised exactly what he does for his baby girl and me. He races home every evening to bath and cuddle his girl, often entering into a war zone as his homecoming time coincides nicely with Greta’s, erm, excitable hour.
He whisks her out of her crib each morning and is often found dancing and singing at the crack of dawn on our balcony – sorry, neighbours. He sits up with me in the wee hours while I breastfeed, passing me glasses of water. He empties the overflowing diaper bins and listens to my tales of baby bowel movements, teething troubles and disaster naps over dinner each evening. As we muddle through parenthood together, it’s these small, unnoticed efforts that underpin our life, helping the family train run a little bit smoother.
Don't get me wrong, I strongly believe that all mums are superheroes – managing a brood of children, a home and a career is challenging to say the least. We could argue that us mothers would do the same if we went to work every day and dads stayed at home. But for today, let’s give thanks to the super dads and appreciate everything they do for us. Tomorrow it can go back to being all about mum.
Photos: Jade's own