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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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SandySondell SandySondell 5 years
Jason refers to me as the CEO and he is the COO, also... He certainly helps out more now that we have 3 and has changed his fair share of diapers. But, when I suggested leaving the 3 kids so that I could get away for a few days, he said he would either come with me or hire the baby-sitter to help him out!!
DanyaSaelens DanyaSaelens 5 years
Daddies are definitely completely capable of handling the household while mommy is away. My husband and father of our 20 month daughter (and another due in a month) is probably a better parent than I am. He is able to take care of our daughter and have fun with her. I, on the other hand, have a hard time balancing the two... it's either business or play. He has changed diapers, bathed, fed, been spit up on and peed on, and spent many many nights awake with a fussy baby. He has never complained. When he was out of work for several months, he spent every day home with her and I know she is as advanced as she is today because daddy taught her everything she knows. He has been the most amazing dad our daughter could ask for. Can't wait to see daddy with our son!
KarenNapper KarenNapper 5 years
I have 5 children, 22, 18, 9, 4 & 2 years of age. With the first 2 my husband had very little to do with them, yes, he would play with them, but that was about it, no.3., he was "alittle bit" better, but no 4 & 5 he has been excellent. I now have things that can take me away for weekends on different occassions, not often, once or twice a year, and I know the younger ones will be fine... apart from the fact the 2 grown up ones are still at home to help him, especially no.2., she is really good! no.1. only thinks about no.1. and mostly disappears.....
KarenNapper KarenNapper 5 years
I have 5 children, 22, 18, 9, 4 & 2 years of age. With the first 2 my husband had very little to do with them, yes, he would play with them, but that was about it, no.3., he was "alittle bit" better, but no 4 & 5 he has been excellent. I now have things that can take me away for weekends on different occassions, not often, once or twice a year, and I know the younger ones will be fine... apart from the fact the 2 grown up ones are still at home to help him, especially no.2., she is really good! no.1. only thinks about no.1. and mostly disappears...
CandaceClark2209 CandaceClark2209 5 years
I know dads can make it on their own...I have a husband who is very good at it. We are a team. We parent, raise our son, and take care of this household together. If one is gone-the other is fine taking over more for awhile. Our son sees us as equal and both competent to take care of his needs and wants. My husband was never one to lay back and "let" me do it all. From the time we found we were expecting he was at every dr's app, reading the books, diaper changes, helping me adjust to nursing, he took 2 weeks off when our son was born, getting up with me through the nights, potty training him, etc.
SchylaCrown SchylaCrown 5 years
When expecting our third child My Doctor place me on bedrest at 8 weeks we had a 2and half year old who was finishing up with potty training and a 4and1/2 year old who would be starting headstart before the pregnancy was over My Mother sat my husband who up to that point had just kinda sat back and let his very over baring wife do it because as they so nicely put it it's easier to just let me do it then have me get upset because it's not done the way I wanted (that's another thing I had to let go of and trust me it was very difficult) she told him he was gonna have to do more to help me rather I liked it or not and I learned quickly how awesome and amazing he is he would work 10 hour days come home fix dinner load the washing machine and dishwasher vacuum and put the kids to bed every single day (My mother would take our girls from the time they woke up till the time my husband got home) it was a long complacated pregnancy but I gained such an appreciation for the father of my children and got a beautiful baby boy out of it so I think it's well worth it!
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