I attended a memorial service the other day of a great preacher of God. He had been serving God for 50 years and just a few weeks shy of his 50th anniversary in God’s service, he passed away. It’s quite interesting that he was the Reverend who dedicated me at the Baby Dedication service and then 28 years later, he dedicated my baby too. She pooped explosively while he carried her, shocking the first 3 rows of people. That’s my girl… 😀 During the service, many people spoke about his accolades but the 1 thing which stood out for me was how often he was referred to as a loving father. One of the speakers made this statement, “Fathers create culture. They set the tone in the family. They say ‘do this, do that, don’t talk like that to your mother.’ ” That set me thinking about the importance of the Daddy’s role.
That boy you dated. That man-boy you married. Suddenly overnight, everything changes and he becomes a father! Wut… Compared to us mothers, who’ve had 9 months of physiological and hormonal changes to help us prepare for the baby, it’s drastically different for the guys. It is possible that nothing in his life changes during the pregnancy (no vomitting, no sleepless nights, didn’t feel no flutter kicks in the tummy) and then one fine day, a naked, bloody, mucous alien-looking thingey lands in his arms and he’s told to cut the umbilical cord. No wonder Fathers get pretty shell-shocked. But the best of them soldier on despite being shell-shocked, faithfully trying to care for the mothers, receiving guests, smiling, trying to keep up with being present but not in-the-way of the MOTHERS (wife, in-law and own mum), who assume utmost importance in the household now just because they have/had milk.
But the poor boy tries and soon, he gets the hang of things he can do and does well. He plays with the baby. She never fails to giggle in glee as he becomes her human amusement park ride. He talks to her via a soft toy. Once, the Husband was sharing something in church and Kyra was whining. My mum told her, “If you cry and make noise, you must come out and cannot listen to Papa. If you keep quiet, you can remain in the service.” She didn’t make a squeak. She was listening and looking at her Papa intently the whole time. That’s how enchanted she is with her Daddy. Interestingly and sadly, I begin to find myself being relegated to second-position in the household.
K: “I love you Papa!”
Husband: “What about Mama?” *silence*
K: “I love you Papa and Mama!”
Zzzzz…. Is it because Papa is the good guy while Mama is the disciplinarian? Actually, not really. He scolds her when she misbehaves and smacks her hand when she touches the plugs (rules and consequences we have agreed on beforehand). But perhaps because of the consistent and loving discipline, his authority in baby’s eyes is amplified. It is a special gift and authority from God to fathers as the heads of households. When he speaks, the child listens; when he’s around, the child feels safe; when he loves the mother, the child knows everything is well in her world. The research about absent fathers is clear and they are all negative. Check out Centre for Fathering (http://fathers.com.sg/about/visionmission/).
So where does that leave the mothers? Of course we are important! We are the life-givers! We feed the kids, bathe them, clean their poopy backsides, soothe their boo-boos, teach them etc etc… Nobody says (or dare say) mothers are not important. But I think at times we have to learn to let go and stay out of the way for fathers to do their job. We have to constantly remember to encourage them that what they are doing is important to the health of the family. Somehow, unintentionally (or so he thinks… Mwahahahah…), I have outsourced teeth-brushing, last diaper change for the night (every night, unless he’s working late, then I pity him and take over) and weekend baths to him. These times are my sacred times – I take a long bath, I play Candy Crush and watch my toe-nails grow. Very.important.stuff.
Of course he will drop the ball sometimes. We are all human! Mummies J and M will know I’ve been battling sleep training (another post for another day) with Baby for the longest time. It’s a long story but basically, I’ve been marching her back to her room every time she sneaks in at 2-3 am because she’s not allowed to climb into our bed and have another bottle of milk. So for a few months I’ve had interrupted sleep and it’s fraying my nerves and temper. One such night, she came in and cried. Papa held her in his arms and allowed her to sleep. On him! “Papa love… Papa love…” Wah… That cut me deep. I.felt.betrayed. I cry…. It’s like your partner in crime, your soulmate, your best friend, ganged up on you with the enemy. Okay.. I am being dramatic. So okay, the next day, we resolved everything and he admitted he wasn’t thinking straight at 3 a.m. (I mean, who is right?) Then another night, she tried the same trick again. This time he marched her back to her room and stayed there with her till she settled down and didn’t give her milk. He said, “If I give her milk, you cry. So I decided to let her cry instead.” Aww… sho shweet… Touched. 🙂 These days, he’s “tanking the Kyra” more for me, for which I’m really grateful! [‘tanking’ = taking the enemy’s hits so your weaker partner has a fighting chance]. So I guess like all marriage issues, it is important to communicate expectations, compromise and try to get him to stand on your side and help. Easier said than done, but in the long run, it will pay off rather than do everything yourself.
Mothers, though strong, can’t do everything alone. Get his help, share the load, parent and discipline together. It’s definitely more fun than going at it alone. Since the kid (especially girls) is going to idolise and worship her father anyway, might as well make him do more to justify the adulation right???