This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.
It’s true, I’m a fraud.
All you parents out there can imagine this scenario I’m sure. The baby’s been awake for hours, crying off and on. Mom is dog tired from having to deal with him by herself all day. You’re tired because you didn’t get much sleep at night and then had to work all day, just to come back home and do it all over again. Some of you are probably doing this with other children in the house, which I can’t even fathom right now.
So you finally get to bed and he’s been quiet for a little while. Then you hear him gearing up again for another scream fest and you have to make a decision. A good father would grudgingly get up, pick up the baby, calm him down and let Mom sleep. Well, I guess I’m not a very good father because I pretended to be asleep.
Yup. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. The thought of dealing with 9 lbs of screaming infant got the best of me. So I took the cowardly route and pretended not to hear him. Father of the Year I am not. And MJ, bless her heart, she actually was sleeping. The woman could slumber through a stampeding herd of rhinos just outside the bedroom. And more than that, she’s a good and honest person. She would never do something underhanded such as fake sleep just to get out of getting up to take care of the kid. That’s why I felt bad as I listened to her finally wake up and drag herself out of bed to take care of Will. Not bad enough to actually get up myself though.
It all goes back to the battle silently being waged in our house right now. It’s a philosophical debate I’m sure most couples go through, and to be honest I can see both sides.
First you have the mom who stays home with the kid all day. Even if she wants to go somewhere it’s a hassle because she has to dress him, change him, package him up in the carseat and lug him around. All day she listens to him cry and has to deal with him when he’s fussy. Sure she’d like to be at work. Of course she wouldn’t mind having a few adult conversations instead of constantly talking in high-pitched baby speak. But she is making the sacrifice to take care of our son, and she believes it should just be assumed her husband will take over and give her a break when he comes home from work.
But then there’s me. While MJ is definitely more sleep deprived than I am, I still wake up when Will is screaming whether I take care of him or not. And once 7:30 a.m. rolls around, I don’t have the luxury of taking a nap later in the day when he falls asleep. I have to go straight from Daddy Duty to work. And not to whine, but this job is an extremely difficult one to perform if you’re not thinking clearly or you’re exhausted. I have to be constantly alert and thinking whether it’s asking the right question during an interview or running out to cover a breaking news story. And then I have to write and make sure everything is in the right order and all my facts are checked. I know, I know…it’s not like I’m a doctor performing surgery, but after a sleepless night and a busy work day I’m dead-tired.
So when I get home, I just want to relax a little bit. I want to watch some TV and play with the dogs. I want to play Guitar Hero to unwind. I want just a few minutes to kick my feet up on the coffee table and not think about anything. But there’s dinner to be made, dishes to be done, dogs to be walked and of course a child to attend to. Not to mention an equally exhausted wife who is expecting a little help from her husband.
Although we haven’t had the “I TAKE CARE OF THE BABY ALL DAY” vs. “I WORK HARD ALL DAY WHILE YOU’RE AT HOME” fight yet, I can almost see it looming in the distance. The problem is we’re both right, there’s no clear-cut winner in that debate. I’m not sure what the solution is but we just have to work out some sort of routine.
Because I’m not that good an actor and she’s going to catch on to my faking eventually, if she hasn’t already.