Being Mommy is wonderful, it’s even better than I thought it would be… But sometimes, just sometimes, I dream about being Daddy.
Daddy didn’t have nine months of pregnancy to deal with. No morning sickness. No swollen feet and ankles. No labour anxiety or being too uncomfortable to sleep. And Daddy still got to benefit from weird pregnancy cravings: too many McDonalds meals than I’d care to admit to and a freezer full of Mars Icecreams.
Daddy didn’t feel like a failure after the midwives told us we were still only 2cm dilated (same as we had been for 6 days) despite two sweeps and two induction pessaries. Daddy didn’t have to watch all the other women on the antenatal ward go off to have their babies overnight and wake up after a very interrupted sleep on an empty ward. No, Daddy got to eat KFC on the way home to a nice cosy bed and get a full night’s sleep in preparation for what the next day might bring.
Daddy didn’t puke his guts up when labour finally ramped up. Or have a catheter reinserted five times in the space of half an hour. He didn’t cry with disappointment after 90 minutes of hard pushing to be taken to theatre. Lucky Daddy.
Daddy wasn’t there for the horrible first few weigh-ins, when baby’s weight had dropped a scary amount. Daddy couldn’t blame himself for that. Daddy wasn’t the one who had a crazy breakdown when baby was five days old because the nipple pain was agonising and the self-doubt was overwhelming. Daddy didn’t feel conflicted when looking in the mirror, trying to feel proud of how much his body had accomplished but at the same time feeling anxious that he’d never quite be the same again.
Daddy’s day-to-day life hasn’t really changed all that much. He still goes to work and earns a living. His bank balance has been relatively unaffected. Daddy comes home to lovely smiles and cuddles from baby, soaks it up for an hour or so and then passes baby back.
Daddy gets told how good he is with baby. Isn’t it amazing that he changes baby’s nappy? Well done Daddy. He’s such a lovely Daddy. The Daddy expectation bar is set so low that Daddy just has to smile at baby to be heralded as Dad of the Year. (He kind of is Dad of Year though…)
The Mommy expectation bar is set too high. Mommy can change all the nappies and sick covered outfits, take baby for walks and to sensory classes, be up all hours of the night feeding but yet still feels like she’s not done enough. Mommy really should have managed to do the washing up too.
Daddy probably doesn’t feel the need to defend every parenting decision to all those who offer their opinions or advice.
Daddy gets a lunch break at work. A whole hour to himself. He can eat whatever he likes and take his time eating it. Daddy has time to think about, well, anything he likes really. He can switch off for a bit and chill out. He knows when it’s time for bed that he can get a good night’s sleep. He’s not woken by every snuffle and stir. He isn’t a human midnight feast. Or 2am feast. 3am feast. 5am feast. His body gets a rest at night. He can actually lie flat and let his bones and muscles recouperate. Mommy gets up in the morning with an achy back and less energy than she had the night before. Mommy has a little bit less energy every single day.
Mommy’s been on one girly night out in over a year. Mommy had to plan it weeks in advance and ask Daddy if it would be okay. Mommy had to express milk everyday in the run up to the night out, panicking every time about how much baby would need. Because Mommy has no idea how much baby drinks. Daddy can go to the pub for a pint at a moment’s notice. He doesn’t need to ask permission or arrange baby care. He doesn’t have to worry about how missing a feed might affect his milk supply. He just enjoys a nice cold pint.
But Daddy doesn’t get as much time off to enjoy baby like Mommy does. He misses out on seeing baby develop and learn every day. He doesn’t know what it’s like to cradle a sleepy post-feed baby for an hour or so and just watch his little face, so peaceful and perfect. He isn’t baby’s favourite restaurant. Or baby’s favourite sleeping place. Daddy’s smell isn’t as comforting as Mommy’s smell. Mommy was home for 9 months and is still home now. And that’s so precious. Mommy cherishes every single moment with baby. Mommy can’t imagine saying goodbye and leaving him every day. Mommy wishes Daddy could be off as well. Mommy knows Daddy wishes he could spend more time at home. Mommy is very lucky.
Mommy life is hard work, and the sacrifices are great, but it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. My proudest job title. It brings deep set happiness on a scale I didn’t even know was possible. I wouldn’t swap it for anything. Being Mommy is wonderful, it’s even better than I thought it would be…
But sometimes, just sometimes, I dream about being Daddy.