Reflections of Fatherhood by Seth Golder
Doing Riley’s bedtime is one of the best times I get to spend with her. During the weekdays I don’t get to see much of her; I am practically out the door when she wakes up and have at best three hours with her by the time I get home. And to be completely honest, that last hour is usually a marathon of walking around with her, bouncing her and watching Word Party on Netflix to keep her up to an hour that will let her sleep through the night.
But our nighttime routine is when we get to relax; she will let me hold her without squirming, she peacefully closes her eyes to drink her bottle, we rock gently back and forth, and best of all, grasps at my thumb or finger with her little fist. It was during this time where I thought about what kind of slant I wanted to give my entry to the blog. I considered the generic Joys of Fatherhood or taking my experiences with other people’s children as a teacher and how that affects my parenting style.
The answer came to me pretty clearly. We had just ended a pretty challenging week. Riley had caught a cold, which happens pretty frequently being in daycare. She didn’t want to be put down. She kicked and squirmed when we held her. Refused to eat. Wouldn’t sleep.
At the same time, she was getting to age where many other kids were crawling and some were getting ready to start walking. Facebook provided constant source material for comparison. But Riley hated it. She wouldn’t stay on her belly for more than a few minutes without getting so frustrated with herself and shrieking. So I did what I think many other parents do; I worried and overthought things. What if she has a physical developmental delay? Are we coddling her and not making her push through the frustration enough? I read every mommy website and WebMD article on the subject.
As most things do, her cold came to pass after a week or so. She smiled and laughed again. She let us hold her and she played independently. It was one of those complete about-faces that took us from “Well, I guess Riley is going to be an only child,” to thinking about the next one. About two days after she was completely symptom free, she pulled herself up for the first time! As proud as Jaclyn and I were, Riley was even more proud of herself. We clapped and she beamed her happiest smile. Yesterday we got the report from daycare that she took her first crawling steps.
So as I close in on my first 10 months of fatherhood, I think that is my biggest takeaway. As hard as it is, don’t obsess on comparisons. Don’t question every decision you make. Don’t look too far into the future. Enjoy the smiles, laughs and finger holding while you have it.