Last December I thought about starting this blog. Obviously I didn’t, but I did write a draft for an eventual post. I dug it out today and gave it a little polish (but not too much.) Here it is.
I am father of a 9 month old girl.
I love her. A lot. I love her more than I love her thought I could love a baby.
But here’s the thing…
I don’t like children. They drive me crazy. I don’t think they’re cute (usually). I don’t find their antics amusing. And I have little patience for them generally.
My daughter is the exception. (Their have been other exceptions, my niece, some cousins. But I grow weary of them after a while so I’m happy to go home after visiting and get some distance.)
My daughter is the main exception.
I am a stay-at-home dad. This is a change from pre-baby when I was a work-at-home man. My work doesn’t pay much, so my wife’s job is our principle source of income. We can’t afford daycare, which is okay. I’m only doing this once, so I may as well cherish it.
That’s what I tell myself. I say I want to cherish this, when I really don’t. I can’t wait for it to be over. I can’t wait for her to be old enough to go to school. I want to get some of my time back. I want space to think and breathe and create. I knew ahead of time that I would be giving a lot up to be a father, and I though I was okay with that. I’ve had to give more than I expected, more than I want to, in order to take care of her.
On the good days, the days when she naps easily and plays happily, I can handle the sacrifice because there are enough little moments to myself through the day to get me by until Mommy gets home and takes over. There are not a lot of these days though. Baby doesn’t like to nap, and rarely naps well. So nap time is a battle zone in our day. She fights and cries and whines and I get more and more upset until I storm out of the room and let her cry alone for a bit. When this happen she’s cranky and tired the rest of the day (even if she does eventually sleep a little.) Sometimes she falls asleep right away, and it seems like it’s going to be a good nap. Then she’ll wake up 20 minutes later and we battle then.
Mostly I can’t handle the sacrifice.
That thing about my daughter being the exception. It’s true, but not all of the time. A lot of times I don’t like her. I can’t stand being around her. I just want 10 goddamn minutes of peace and quiet without the burden of responsibility lurking in the back of my mind.
The strangest part of all of this to me is that even when I don’t like her, when I can’t stand another minute of this, I still love her. There’s a profound difference between liking and loving. For parents this is an important difference. I can be fed up with her and let my mind fill with fantasies of running away, going for a burger and beer while she cries alone in her crib, but still want protect her and take care of her and try my damnedest to get her to take a nap because I know deep down that she needs her sleep to grow and that she needs to feel loved and safe and secure in order to have any chance of being well-adjusted when she’s older. I know that she needs me, and because I love her in a way that I can’t control I meet her needs even when I’d rather be doing anything else.
Then she wakes up, happy and smiles at me. And I like her again too.