Mar 18, 2009

Home-Dadding The Beginning - Dan's Story Part 2

Here's the second instalment of 'Dan's story'. For part one, where Dan talks about IVF, the process of adoption and his move into Home-Dadding, go here.

For the first few weeks I felt like an imposter walking round with someone else’s baby. And of course in one sense I was walking around ‘ with someone else’s baby'. I guess no-one truly ‘owns’ their baby, but with your genetic offspring the question never really enters your thoughts. Looking back now I can’t imagine life any other way and our second son is, well, exactly that. However at the time I felt I couldn‘t take credit for all the positive comments I got about him. For example, people would often tell me how cute he was (of course he still is), but I felt sort of weird accepting this. I had no problem basking in the reflected glow of comments about how lovely our eldest was when he was tiny, but somehow with our new baby I didn’t feel I had the right to take credit for this vicarious admiration. Likewise I struggled to find the similarities in looks, emotions, and behaviors, between him and our older boy that would somewhere subconsciously confirm him as our little boy.

Thankfully, as I became closer and closer to him, these feelings slipped away to be replaced by the deep love and bonding (sorry to use that word cos I hate it) that then made him a truly, fully-paid-up member of our family. I started to celebrate all the differences, and accept them all, for making our new boy the beautiful and unique little person that he is.

So there was this aspect of trying to attach with the new baby, while getting my head around the Home Dad thing too. In terms of ‘Home-Dadding’, I found having sole responsibility on a day to day basis was a really daunting experience at first, and I was certainly very conscious of being ‘the only man’ in many of the places I now found myself in. You really notice this when you are at home and out and about during the week, while the majority of other Dads are at paid work. You’re invariably the only man at the sing song at play group, the only man at the Maternal Child Health Centre, the only man struggling to control the cries of the baby at the supermarket. This can have a positive in terms of some Mums thinking you’re wonderful, wishing their husband was more like you etc, but it can be a negative if people think you’re not quite up to the job, and feel they have to let you know how you should be doing things. For some reason middle-aged staff at DIY stores seem particularly prone to this.

For example I was once at the DIY store giving my upset son a rock on my shoulder and along came a helpful middle-aged woman to tell me “he needs more than that!” Another time I was in the checkout queue, baby aged about 10 months and wailing cos I’d had to remove a packet of laundry softener that was about to split apart (he’d splattered one over the counter the week before somehow!). An older woman behind me leans forward and says to baby “ It’s okay, you’ll be alright when you’re back home with Mummy”.

All that hard work crashing down on deaf ears!! These sorts of incidents gave me the impression that I was under extra scrutiny as a Dad with a baby, and perhaps given less credence than a Mum with baby would get.

To be continued tomorrow....

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