Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Baby Madness

April showers are falling and the baby day looms.

This past week has been something of a reckoning for me and my little family. Life changed when the Mama stopped working to go on maternity leave, and even our boy noticed the difference. We all had varied responses.

Jeep was suddenly up a night, displaying crazy attachments, and generally out of sorts. It was kind of a "WTF?!? Why is Mom home all the time?" kind of response. I think he knows the game is up, and asks about baby all the time.

But Mama and the Daddy Life deal with the coming changes in their own ways.

First there were the lists: a slavish attempt to control the future and prepare for all possible eventualities. This is my wife's response to stress, I think. I began to resent them immediately, but of course I knew enough to just get out of the way.

Me? I played more golf, and filled up all my "extra" hours in the day with cocktails and cooking projects. This was not helpful in the other extreme.

Of course there was a crash, and it came on suddenly, with blunt force. There was no fight, and in fact my wife was very sweet. It involved a half magnum of white wine, a complex recipe for coq au vin, and a late night kitchen accident that could have happened to anybody.

The bottom line, Mama has been steeped in something akin to dread. New baby coming, late nights, no sleep, boob whispering, toddler neediness, et cetera, et cetera. Daddy was thinking along some other lines: how can I get my short game under control, drop my handicap, get out for a run, drop my boy at pre-school, meet the boys for drinks, and pick up a pizza? Basically, avoidance.

I pictured our "maternity leave" month as something different. I was thinking more along the lines of vacation, walks in the park, and time spent together as a family. I was also thinking of action, projects, and dinner parties. I wanted all of this before it changed, before we lost track of the sweet mornings in bed with our little boy, laughing and reading and playing and soaking up the love of two parents at once. Any day now the little girl will come, and our family circle will explode into something new. There will be baby diapers and visitors and presents and cooing and crying and it will all be wonderful and sticky sweet and a little sad for me.

The loss of this time we are in now sits heavily with me. So I have reformed myself, to savor it. I cut out the drinks, and ramp up my exercise. I work on the lists, and drop the social events. I am trying to embrace the quiet, but I know that I come off as surly and recalcitrant.

Well, we are what we are. Sometimes the madness takes us, and spits us out as something we never expected. I think this is the root of it for me. I know how becoming a father to the Jeep changed me entire life experience. Will Daddy's little girl knock me off my balance? I know with certainty that change is never easy, but I will do my best to rise to it.

My gut tells me that it will both impossibly hard, and the most natural thing in the world. Sacrifice, humility, and acceptance will all come easily when the time is right. I love my boy Jeep so impossibly that I would allow him to ruin me. How much more will I feel this for my girl?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Daddy Addy

My life as the daddy rolls on.

I seem to be well-suited for the changing faces of fatherhood. The boy is both challenging and charming, and Mama's growing belly gives us all a sense of the future. I report myself as happy and settled into the rhythms of stay-at-home parenting. The Daddy Life was conceived out of my own discomforts and anxieties of this new "career change" into fatherhood. It serves as a record of my (mostly) anonymous alter-ego and the strange trip we're on around here.

Jeep is healthy and well. We survived the travel to Mexico, the tantrums, the strange food, and the mosquito bites. He has undergone stunning changes these past months. His desires remain strong, and his language and energy are increasing to keep pace. My boy is active and soaking up the world around him. Full blown tantrums have decreased, but they still lie there under the surface. It seems to me that Jeep has stepped back from the edge of TOTALLY LOSING IT. Maybe he discovered that its not much fun, and doesn't get him what he wants.

The weather is changing - it is spring here in the Pacific Northwest. We go for walks now, these short rambles up the street or through the park to take note of all the important things: dogs, birds, flowers, pine cones, and buses. There is a lot of pointing and naming. Daddy gets outside for some ambitious work in the yard and an occasional ambitious golf game. Last week was spring break, and Jeep seemed relieved to return to the routines of school.

The baby is coming. My wife begins her maternity leave today, with roughly four weeks before Birthday Zero. The house is showing signs of her arrival. A room has been prepared, furniture moved, and baby clothes sorted. I am beginning to feel the warmth of a new life in our home. Our new little girl will bring a new dimension to our family life. This morning as I write this, I am feeling the awe and weight of the coming changes.