|Photo by Gregory Rallen|
I had my first child eight years ago. I was 24. I had no idea what I was doing. I was young, confused, and scared, and all of this caused me to say some really bone-head things to my wife. I feel horrible about it, so I am going to have a conversation with my former self. Hopefully you new fathers out there can learn from my mistakes.
When did the doctor say we could have sex again?
Oh… poor you. Having to go a few months without sex. Your wife just had a 6-pound baby ripped from a gaping hole in her stomach (C-section), but that pales in comparison to how horny you are. Dude… deal with it. Your wife just grew a baby inside her body, then had a major surgery where a human life was dragged out of her, and finally was crudely stapled back together. Do you really think she needs you crammed up inside her? Think with your head for a minute. Give her body a rest. She’s earned it.
When are we going to start exercising again?
I see what you did there. You said “we” and not “you.” Classy. You know what your wife just heard? “You need to get busy losing that baby weight.” Or maybe, “I’m not finding you as attractive after having a baby.” So basically you just confirmed what most women fear after having a child. Nice work, asshole. You are both adjusting to a new baby. She is adjusting to a new baby AND a new body. You married her because she is sweet and wonderful. Because she made you feel like a better man. Not simply because she looked good in a pair of jeans. So think about that and give the new mom a break.
Listen, I get it. Having a baby is exhausting for both parents. I’m not saying that you are not tired. But saying it to your wife makes her feel like she needs to do something to help you get more rest. Or it’s like you are asking her to console you, or reward you for being such a trooper. That is not her job right now. You can get emotional support for how tired you are somewhere else. Because you know what, she is the one working to put her body back together while producing milk to feed the baby. Her body has shit to do, she doesn’t have the energy to make you feel better about being tired, so do her a favor and shut the hell up about how tired you are.
Ugh… do I have to change the baby?
Yes you do! You are a dad! This is a partnership. If the baby is poopy, handle it. Don’t pass that shit onto your wife. Take pride in it. This is a new era. An egalitarian age where a man can change a diaper and feel good about it. Take advantage of the fact that you can, with the simple act of changing a baby’s butt, without complaint, be a huge help to your growing family. Stop being lazy and stop acting like you are better than the job.
You have three months off from work. It’s like an extended vacation.
NO! IT! IS! NOT! It is recovery time, you dumb ass. It is time for your wife to get her body back together, and for her to connect with the baby. She should get as much time as she needs off (3 months, 3 years…). That would be a decent maternity leave. What you were trying to say was this. That you wished you had time off so that you could care for your wife and child. So that you could spend time connecting as a new family. You are not pissed off because your wife gets maternity leave and it’s a vacation. You are pissed off because you don’t get paternity leave, which is bullshit.
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Clint Edwards was blessed with a charming and spitfire wife, a video game obsessed little boy, and a snarky little girl in a Cinderella play dress. When Clint was 9-years-old his father left. With no example of fatherhood, he had to learn how to be a father and husband through trial and error. His essays on parenting and marriage have been featured in New York Times, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Scary Mommy, The Good Men Project, and elsewhere. He lives in Oregon. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Photo by Lucinda Higley