Saturday, 18 February 2012

How it's going.

Hey, Owen.

People I run into who know I'm staying home with you often ask me, "So, how's it going?"
Some seem to be asking earnestly and with genuine curiosity. When others ask, their mouths form into this nearly imperceptible smirk. I'm not totally sure what to make of the smirk. The cynic in me thinks it says, "You lucky YTG gravy-train riding lay-about: getting paid to play with a baby all day!" More likely, the smirk is subtly tacked onto the corner of the face of someone who's been there, and it says, "I know just how it's going for you: It's going sort-of like how the election went for the Liberals: You're shocked and bewildered. You're hanging on by a very thin thread wondering where it all went so wrong."

The truth is, I'm not sure how to answer the question other than to offer my standard, pithy, "Oh, well.. still standin'!" yuck yuck.

I don’t know how it’s going. Compared to what?

I know this is how I looked a few weeks before you were born...

And this is how I looked after taking care of you for a few weeks...

It is safe to say it’s not going  how I expected. What did I expect? I guess I expected to be sitting in coffee shops reading, writing, baby sleeping contentedly next to me in his car seat, accepting the well wishes of friends and strangers on what a cute, calm, well-adjusted, human we had created.

I know: What. Was. I. Thinking?
I know I expected you to sleep…at least sometimes. For more than a few minutes at a time and at predictable times so at very least I could anticipate when I might be able to perform some basic personal hygiene, rather than be left wondering IF I might be able to perform some at all.
The hardest part is still not feeling like I’m getting anything done. I’m not producing anything. It's weird that this bothers me. Is it possible that I actually do have some trace of a "work ethic"? Who knew.

Maybe it’s just that I’m conditioned to think that’s what makes a life meaningful – to be productive in some way, everyday. I need to change my perspective. I know on an intellectual level that caring for a newborn – feeding, changing, clothing, calming, stimulating – should be considered productive, but on a gut level it's hard to accept. Probably because it goes against the protestant work ethic we're hard-wired for. I think I understand why stay-at-home moms (and dads)  have long fought for credibility.
Raising a happy, safe, well-nourished infant does not appear to be rocket science, but it does require a generous dose of selflessness; a willingness to let go of some of your personal detritus and forgo the instant gratification you've become accustomed to. 

Selflessness. A higher calling. Maybe this is the change that I really need to make.

Damn it. I hate it when I talk myself into growing up.

Stay at Home Dad Lesson #221:

Baby fashion is not intuitive. Why wouldn't stripes go with other stripes? Yukon mom was not impressed.