While I can’t give out any information yet on the topic of my proposed article for Parents magazine, I can say that I have turned it in and I’m awaiting approval. But forget about appearing in the magazine for a second. I want to talk about some of the things writing and researching it helped me understand.
Namely, the whole experience reinforced for me how important mothers are. And not in the way you think. I mean sure they’re important because of the obvious reasons; giving birth, breastfeeding, being a natural caretaker, etc. But moms also play a main part in determining what kind of a father a man will become.
In talking to many fathers and parenting experts recently, it became painfully obvious that moms rule the roost. Some women have a baby and automatically become a know-it-all, overbearing expert. In short, they do everything themselves because they’re afraid they’re the only ones who will do it right. Now combine that with a dad who is starting off fatherhood unsure of himself. He’s timid and hesitant to just jump right in because he doesn’t quite know what he’s doing. So instead of mom offering to help dad overcome his fears, what happens? She hogs the baby, does everything herself and never gives him a chance to get in the game.
After that it’s a downward spiral and a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mom does all the work and starts to feel overburdened and resentful towards dad. Dad basically gives up trying to have any part in caring for the baby and feels left out and disconnected from his own child. That leaves both parents unhappy, feeling resentful and it leaves the child without the proper balance of mom and dad in his/her life.
Fortunately, MJ was not like this at all. Or at least very rarely. I didn’t realize it at the time, but MJ really helped shape the kind of father I’ve become today. At first I thought she was just being lazy to be honest. She was always thrusting Will upon me, making me change diapers, forcing me to play with him even when he was grumpy and I was frustrated, etc. Although it pissed me off at the time, I realize now that she was helping me overcome obstacles. There’s nothing like a little trial by fire to vanquish worries and fears, and MJ helped me do that without me ever realizing it until months later.
I owe her so much because it’s very easy for moms to fall into the trap of falling into the “I know best” mindset. After all, it’s her precious baby and she doesn’t want anything bad to happen. In a way it’s perfectly normal. But as dads, it’s so important that if that happens, we stand up for ourselves and demand our time with the baby. We need to get that early bonding in because it’s so important down the road. And it’s just as important to show mom that we are capable and willing to care for our babies to develop trust and understanding.
So thank you babe. I’m not a perfect father, but I think I’m a pretty damned good one so far and I largely have you to thank for that.