5 tips for making Pops feel like part of the crew.
When my daughter was born I couldn't believe how many clichés suddenly rang true: I'd never loved anyone like this, I'd never felt so viscerally connected with another human. I could gaze into her unfocused eyes forever, floating along in a hormonal bliss as she nursed. From the first moment I saw that slimy little creature, I was in love.
My husband loved her too, of course, but it wasn't quite the same. I remember him saying, "We don't even know her yet!"
Know her yet? She had tons of personality! It was just somewhat...invisible, as of yet.
For dads, it seems like things get more fun when the baby starts noticing he exists – go figure! Apparently a little love-grub that only wants to nurse and cuddle Mommy is not all that fun to hang out with if you happen to be a non-Mom. So don't be freaked out if on your baby's daddy's first Father's Day, he isn't feeling all that fatherly yet.
If your partner is feeling a little left out of the baby-Mama-love-knot, my first piece of advice would be: Don't worry. Just as you've told yourself through pregnancy discomforts, labor pains, and sleepless nights, this too shall pass.
Before you know it you'll be in the other room listening to your wee one shriek with laughter as Daddy causes a rollicking storm to whip bathtime into a hilarious frenzy. To very young children daddies are for FUN, while mommies are, as my own mother put it, the air. So remind your hubby to hang in there, and that soon he will have his own special role beyond changing the occasional diaper.
A few other tips for making Pops feel like part of the crew on his first Father's Day:
1. Let him feed the baby.
Even if you're breastfeeding, you can express some milk, hand Daddy a bottle, and snap some idyllic photos. (Hint: don't make this the first bottle, as Baby might not be on board with the "making Daddy feel as important as Mama" charade.)
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2. Set him up to succeed.
When is El Baberino most content, usually? In the car seat? In the stroller, outside? Nestled in the Ergo? Whatever it is, let Daddy drive (or push, or wear).
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3. Remind him of what a good job he's done so far.
I know, you have tons of time on your hands, what with this new baby and all her shocking proportions of laundry and such. But try to pick a few of your favorite pics of your two main squeezes together, and put together an album for your husband. If you use Instagram, you could even have adorable teeny books made here.
4. Get together with some other dads.
This is a controversial one. Certain male parents I know are so hungry for time with their little ones that they don't much fancy an outer-familial intrusion. But think about how connecting with other moms, in person or online, has helped ease the strangeness of this new life stage for you. Dads, especially if they are working out of the house full time, are less likely to find other fathers to have that "I know, the same thing is happening to me!" moment that can save your sanity.
5. Be sure to let him know how much you still love him, even in your new role as That Screaming Creature's Chaperone.
I don't mean to sound bitter, and I adore my husband, but this one is a heck of a lot harder than it sounds. There's a reason why everyone says it: parenthood is hard on a couple. Reach out to your partner, expressing love in a way he will understand – whether it's a heartfelt card, a thoughtful present, or even... making... French toast.