Part of being a Dad is knowing when to step in with wisdom and when to step back with grace. Everyday situations arise that are the culmination of hundreds of factors from sleep to number of minor infractions accrued through the week. Don’t get me wrong before children a couple will play the game as well, however children add a whole heap of spice and rather than being a regional qualifier it suddenly becomes sudden-death world final.
As a Dad I am useless at this game, from being so uber know-it all with our daughter and then being brought down a few hundred pegs to simply taking the back seat now with our son. Mum will do the research, read dozens of parenting/feeding/mothering books, speak to other Mums including their own and generally just know. There are at times however all of that isn’t enough, when the baby is screaming the house down and all that advice has to bore any fruit. As these days pile up the amount frustration, tiredness and unwarranted feeling of failure will increase exponentially. As Dad you have time the intervention as a piece of advice such as “I hold him like this” or simply asking “let me have a try” can be disastrous especially if you yield immediate results. So as you might’ve read in previous posts my timing is near on shite and our way of coping in these situations is bitter silence and restraint for days (we’re simply not great talkers, unless it’s over text or email).
In the last few weeks I’ve seen our daughter move into the stratosphere of naughty and our few week old son flit between angel to angry to demanding. It’s taken it’s toll. In our Son’s first week our marriage went thermo nuclear when we discussed breastfeeding frequency required to build up enough supply. I uttered many words including “when will the rest of us spend time with him” and at that point I felt the anvil of motherhood fall from 40,000 ft onto my head. In my defence those were not aptly chosen words I was exhausted and worried as hell that Mum’s breastfeeding journey this time would be torturous as it was with our daughter. I simply didn’t want that again as it bordered on post-natal and was incredibly hard on both Mum and Daughter and left me feeling helpless for months on end. Without digressing further as this merit’s a blog of it’s own, I played the wheel and it spun around ticking away before landing on “Get your f’ing bags you inconsiderate asshole).
That’s not the only folly on the wheel in recent days, I played the wheel between three Mum’s (Wife, Mother-in-Law and Mum) when it comes to our daughters disciplining. You see I am a hard ass and my daughter knows it, however I do consider myself very fair unless my tiredness or stress levels outside our relationship are very high. As Dad I’ve been told by three Mum’s some truths in my discipline techniques ranging from being way to strict to not setting enough boundaries. You see how that can leave a Dad confused and not know where to go. In this case I simply stopped intervening or disciplining our daughter and left them to it, it was the two finger salute approach why stress myself out when I could be having a blast with my daughter. Around ten days later my wife began to see why I am hard on our daughter mostly because she is built with the same character as me and as a child I was immensely naughty (my dear Mum dropped me outside a prison aka “naughty boys home” at one stage and being as stubborn as I am I walked to the front-door). Nonetheless after a period of time we talked (as grown ups face-to-face) about our Daughter’s discipline and I dispensed some well received advice balanced with holding hands up to mistakes made up to this point. Hell we even managed to discuss and agree to some degree that Mum-in-Law isn’t a credible source living so far away and my Mum is way too soft out of some misaligned guilt from her own harass parenting. Talking to Mum about her own Mum can be near suicide, I played the game of death there. Again not digressing on this, it is worth of a separate blog post, this is where I might’ve played the wheel and landed on a “Time-Out bonus” type prize.
As a Dad these are simply two situations in a short space of time that have left us not talking for a few days and a lot of reeling on both sides. There is nothing worse that not knowing what to say and when to say it or even worse timing it wrong. When raising children the effects of ill-timing are quite honestly earth shattering, not least as the kids do smell blood and ways of making that an advantage for them.
Would be good to hear some other Dad’s out there who’ve played the game and how it’s worked out. Also massive congratulations to Anthony Joshua fantastic boxing match (albeit Klitchko who is a standout sportsman was unfortunate to step into that uppercut), I sneaked out to watch the boxing but immediately recalled as the Boy wouldn’t settle with Mum oh yes that wheel couldn’t spun that night but I opted not to spin it just came home put him to sleep and let Mum accept defeat until the morning…