Baby Blues

Since finishing my last contract in October, I have been a full time stay at home dad looking after Abigail, our five month old daughter. This has been, of course, a joy. But it was also, initially a huge culture shock. As much as I adore my daughter, and believe me I adore my daughter, being a full time Mum/Dad was a lot harder than I had ever anticipated. After a couple of weeks of feeding, changing, bathing, playing, feeding, changing, bathing, playing, I was absolutely exhausted and beginning to go a little stir crazy. I missed the workplace a lot more than I had ever anticipated. Who would have thought you could ever miss a cube farm!
Obviously, having the traditional roles reversed, with my wife working and me parenting, was always going to be tricky. After all, whether we like it or not, nearly all facilities and support networks are designed with mothers, not fathers, in mind. Have you ever heard of a father and baby group? And try changing a nappy in a department store when all the facilities are in the ladies washrooms.
During those first weeks I eventually managed to let the stress dissipate and Abigail and I slowly became a formidable team. Where initially, getting out of the door would involve a full scale child meltdown and a half dressed dad stumbling down the street mumbling damn, I forgot my coat, socks, underwear……..again, within a few weeks we had a system down to pat and I could start to enjoy the luxury of having so much quality time with my daughter.
It is a sad state of affairs when the only way you can get to see your child’s development in those crucial early years is through a spell of forced unemployment. Note to America, even Afghanistan has maternity leave and in Sweden and Norway parents get 18 months paid leave, yes, paid leave to be split between both parents. That is truly progressive. Only America and Australia offer nothing to new parents.
I have now secured a new contract and will be starting at my new company on Monday. I am, of course happy to be getting back to work. But, in truth, my heart is breaking. I would give my high teeth to be able to stay home and help my daughter navigate her way through her early childhood. These last couple of months have been an absolute joy. I have witnessed her first smile, her first giggle and today she ate her first banana; well, a little bit of one anyway. Unfortunately, in the future she will be in bed by the time I get home and I will be back to only seeing her at the weekends. The idea of maternity leave, let alone paternity leave sadly isn’t on the agenda and unfortunately, the only social influence Sweden has on America comes in flat pack form from Ikea.

One Response to “Baby Blues”

  1. kelly d Says:

    email us – we cant seem to find your phone number xxx

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