Monday, December 22, 2008

A bit more from the last post.

When I asked if any of you had a plan, I should of made it clear I did ~not~ have a plan. I just assumed he would do what needed to be done. I saw him with his nephews and knew he would be good with kids, but that's about as far as it went.

My husband is a GOOD man. It's why I married him - he was the yin to my yang. I was the wild girl who needed someone who could not only chill my ass down in my ways, but who would also compliment me too. I couldn't just marry someone who was opposite from me, as I would have ended up hating it. I still needed to have fun, so I needed someone to meet me in the middle.

The one thing I noticed was he always put me first when it was necessary. For example, when he goes out with the guys or makes any kind of plans, he "asks" me first. No, it's not for permission, but it's out of respect. He's really asking me if there was anything else I needed him to do or be there for before making his plans. Rarely do I have a reason for saying "no", but it's nice that even after almost 11 years of being together, I can say "no" if I need to.

So in thinking of how he would be as a dad was just an assumption on my end. I just knew he would be and well, I was right.

BUT ...

And this is a big but ... (heh, that made me laugh) He had to be trained. Just assuming he'd step up and take care of things 50/50 was such a freaking bad idea, I can't even tell you.

During my maternity leave, I took all night feedings. Not a problem. He had to work in the morning, I didn't. But other than that, I just expected him to do what was needed. And there was a lot to do. Taking care of a newborn is fucking ~hard~ work. It's 100% constant. And what I mean by that is when the baby doesn't need your attention, you need to do things like, oh, eat, pee, shower, sleep, clean, etc.

Tom, my ~wonderful~ husband. The man who always was considerate and always did his share in housework and pretty much EVERYTHING, just didn't do what I needed for the baby. If I specifically ~asked~ him, he'd do it without issue. But doing it without being asked? Yeah, this was our problem.

I can't tell you how many times I broke down crying telling him he wasn't helping. And his response? "All you have to do is ask me!" but to me, that was yet another step. That was me having to act as his boss. I didn't want to nag. I didn't want to have to ask. And he just didn't ~get~ how frustrating it was for me. Once we had that big talk from my first mental breakdown, he started to just DO things. Yeah, he's still ask "hey, the baby seems to need a bath, should I do it?" and I would answer, but we finally got to the point to where he didn't ask me anymore. And THIS is what made him the dad I needed him to be.

So here is some assvice from me:

~ Explain, out loud, what you expect from him as far as duties. And how these duties may change if you go back to work or anything else.

~ I've seen time and time again how working men just don't understand why they need to take on baby duties, even if it's 50/50, when they get home from work. Explain that caring for a baby IS a job and you deserve a break too.

~ From early on, leave your baby home alone with your husband as you run an errand. I pumped breast milk early on for this very reason. Let him have time with the baby when s/he's AWAKE. Don't make it easy and only leave when baby is napping.

~ Allow him to make mistakes. He won't harm the baby, but he may realize putting his diaper on too loose results in a blowout. Let him clean up the blowout.

~ *** I think one of the best things for me was to have HIM take the baby on HIS errands. At first, I would leave the baby with him so I could go grocery shopping alone. But that wasn't really a "break" for me - that was me running an errand. Have HIM take the baby with him so you can veg out at home and watch TV. Or take a nap. This type of break was the best kind of break for me. I was home. I didn't have a baby I could hear. It was a true break.

~ Trust your husband with the baby. Babies are not that fragile. Trusting your husband by not looking over his shoulder, telling him what to do and correcting him will give your husband the trust he needs for himself.

I know it seems I'm talking way too much on this subject, but in my years on the parenting boards, I see more women frustrated with this very topic than any other. So many of us just assume how awesome our husband's will be with the baby simply because we see them with nieces or nephews or another baby. But when it comes down to day to day duties, daddies are just not mommies. Some are great, sure. But the majority are not - the good news is, they can be.


Anonymous said...

Nancy, I think your advice is great. I hope all the moms-to-be reading your blog will take it to heart. I've seen too many friends complain that their husband won't help, or that they need a break, but then they will not actually leave him with the baby. He can't learn if he doesn't do it.


Seriously? - Erin said...

Thanks Nancy! This advice will really come in handy. I think we do need to make it clear what we expect. They aren't mind readers...

I am happy to take advice from those with experience. I know it's going to be hard anything to make it easier...

Kathy said...

You know, I think my husband was more comfortable with our first child than I was.. having a baby was a little awkward for me! even though he was going thru a program at work(military) that was 6 days a week and 16 hour days... My husband is awesome with my babies!! I trust him so much! I don't have, nor have ever had any qualms about leaving my babies with my husband alone!!


Jen said...

Oh how true this all is. I'm pretty sure I've had a half dozen breakdowns since Jillian was born where I got upset because Jeramy wasn't helping and his response was that I hadn't told him what to do. Even after 10 years of marriage this has become a whole new lesson in communication.

Poltzie said...

I like what you said about getting the dad to do the errands. I was always leaving him with dad to go shopping, pick up dry cleaning etc. Then I realized that I was tired all the time because my "me" time wasn't about me at all.
I love those times where he takes the baby and I get to chill out at home! I wish I would have read that post when the baby was a month old!

I'm lucky though to have such a great husband. I don't have to tell him what to do often and he does the bath and bed routine every night. I see friends who's husband's don't do anything and I feel so bad for them!

Hollie said...

Thanks for the advice. I also have to ask my husband to do things a lot, and it will probably be like that with the baby too. I need to talk to him about doing things without being asked.

Not in the Water said...


As you know, I don't have kids yet BUT I already know that my husband will need some major boot camp. B/c even now he doesn't get it. I have to ask him and often BEG to get him to do stuff around the house. He'll do the lawn mowing and such b/c I can't do it. But the dishes? when they build up!

I am having Christmas at my house and yes I am off tomorrow. But it won't even cross his mind to pick up around the house tonight (Xmas Eve is at his mom's so it needs to be done tonight/tomorrow.

I am jealous your hubby gets it! Gets that he needs to help out. angers me...and DH thinks I'm attacking him and it's a fight. I really believe it stems from MIL spoiling him and never expecting him to do anything. But she was a SAHM even when his younger sis was in college and she had a cleaning woman.

Well I wrote a book!


Amanda said...

Great advice! I've even used it today.

To Mr. W in a calm voice, "Please, if you use the last bottle, or see that I have and not realized it, wash them. A hungry baby cries a lot longer when I have to wash bottles first. Thank you Sweetie!"

From Mr. W, "OK. Sorry."

Amanda said...

And I agree with Jen. Even though I thought we had great communication before, I'm learning you can always better it!