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When Mom's Away: Finding My Role as a Dad

When Mom's Away: Finding My Role as a Dad


When Mom's Away: Finding My Role as a Dad

I’m a different type of father from my own dad. My mother notified me of this fact a mere three days after my daughter was born. What triggered this conclusion? The impetus was a commitment I made to my wife, Christine, on the suggestion of a good friend: I would change every diaper while we were in the hospital. My wife’s job was to relax, recuperate and get to know our new baby girl, Maile.

Apparently, the 20 some odd diapers I changed in those first few days outpaced my dad by a considerable amount — to hear my mom tell it, I changed more diapers in the first week than my father ever did...between me and my sister combined! (Note: In fairness to my dad, my mom is prone to exaggeration.)

The reality is that I’m not trying to be a different father than my dad. From my perspective, if I can be the type of dad to Maile that my dad was to me, I will have done a good job. Diapers not withstanding, my dad was a very loving one, who supported, guided, encouraged and challenged me as I grew up.

But I do see the differences — and as the diaper example shows it has more to do with my relationship with my wife than with my daughter. Christine and I raise Maile as a team: I often refer to Chris as the CEO and myself as the COO. She’s in charge, but I can step in when needed and we make decisions together. A more apt comparison for my parents might be my mom as President and Congress, and my dad as the Supreme Court. My mom ran the show, but my dad could lay down the law when needed.

Christine and I are lucky that we are starting parenthood alongside many of our close friends. In some respects I see both models at work within different families, but most of the dads seem similar to me. If mom needs to head off for a few hours or even out of town for a night or two, we dads can hold our own with the little one.

Speaking of travel, since Christine travels a bit for work, it gives me an opportunity to see how Maile views our different roles. Normally, it’s very clear how things line up in her head (in order of importance):

  1. Mommy
  2. Bananas
  3. Blueberries
  4. Buses
  5. Daddy

Of course, when Mommy is away, the list gets a little jumbled. Christine typically flies out on the red eye, leaving after Maile has gone to sleep. There must be a homing beacon that kicks in when Mommy passes the 20-mile barrier because about 30 minutes after she leaves, Maile always wakes up crying for her. I go in to calm her, but she won’t relax until I take her throughout our entire apartment (closets included) and prove to her that I’m not hiding Mommy anywhere.

After that we’re fine for the rest of the time Mommy is away. Maile allows me to do all of the things that Mommy usually does, and without a fuss. Daddy doesn’t do them quite as well — styling her hair is a particular challenge — but Maile cuts me some slack.

There is no doubt my wife and I work better as a team, but like any good team, we can cover for each other when needed. Despite the differences my mom highlights, I think the same holds with my parents too. I just might have ended up with a little more diaper rash.

Image Source: Courtesy M. Koidin

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.

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