Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Daddy Day Care

It's official... I'm Mr. Mom. Amanda went back to work last week and Harper and I have been flying solo during the day. I was quite scared the first morning Amanda left but I have to say that so far things have gone pretty well. In a short time Harper and I have worked out a pretty good little routine. After her final morning nursing and once Amanda leaves she takes a little nap that allows me to attend to some emails, clean dishes and maybe get a little reading in or some school prep. We then have our first bottle time and let me take a moment here to sing the praises of the bottle warmer. When we got it, Amanda and I worried it would be too much of a luxury but this thing is awesome!!! Harper has gotten used to the sound it makes so she knows food is coming and will calm down a bit if she is having a meltdown (more on that later.) After the first bottle we have some daddy/daughter time and play on the floor or bounce on the knee or something rather monotonous and mundane but purposeful. This is when we get to know each other and spend a lot of time talking and smiling. These are the moments when all of the difficult times seem to fade from memory (again more on that later). It is also after the first feeding that we will get a bath if necessary.

I've gotten pretty good at the bath time ritual if I might say so myself. We (I) sing lots of silly songs together and laugh at all the nooks and crannys that we must get clean. I'm pretty creative during this time and need to start recording myself as there may be some golden childrens songs being written in that tub. Watch out Wiggles!!!

After a bath there is usually a mid day nap, often for both of us. This has been the time that is difficult for me to get motived to do anything of substance. If not napping I lie on the couch and watch tv or surf mindlessly on the internet. I set out just to have some lunch and be lazy for half an hour but before I know it an hour or more has gone by. It is amazing to me how time flies by during the day.

Harper usually wakes to let me know when we need to have the afternoon feeding and I warm a bottle up. Recently, DeDe has been coming over to relieve me at about 4:30 so I can go up to play rehearsal in Burnsville. This has worked out very well so far and gives me some indication of what it will be like in the fall when I go back to teaching full time and Amanda is working in full swing at the Pharmacy.

That's pretty much our day. I like to get her out for a short walk in the morning if it's nice and not too hot or we may run an errand or two in the afternoon. She hates getting in her car seat but once we are on the move she does really well in the car or strolling around Target. We have a really good time together, or so it seems to me.

So that's all the good. But with the good must come some of the bad. Parenthood, I am quickly learning is not all sugar and peppermints. I think that may be grandparenthood. There have been times when both Amanda and I have really struggled, and the temptation to just lie Harper down on the floor and run out of the house screaming has been very strong. She will on occasion break down and have a complete and total meltdown. She is like a wind up toy and her energy will send her arms and legs into fits of wild movement. It is during these times that she falls apart and clean diaper and full belly be damned, she will scream like her world is coming to an end. I have gotten over the stupid notion that she doesn't "like me" but at times I feel like she clearly "hates me". In an effort to try and calm her, I often will hold her in such a way that constricts her legs from kicking out so much and I have never heard such blood curdling screams in my life. I know I am not hurting her because within a few moments of stopping her flailing legs she quickly exhausts herself and calms down. These "moments" however are agonizing for both she and I. She looks at me like I am destryoing her world and I fear these will be the deep seeded memories she will try to explain to a therapist in 25 years about why she is claustrophobic.

I am totally awed by the super human sound of a baby's cries. I feel at times like my eardrums are bleeding and I don't understand how those high decibels don't hurt her ears. I have heard that crying helps to develop the lungs of a newborn and I am thinking she will go into swimming because I am certain she will be able to break all sorts of breath holding records. They say that the baby feeds off the energy of the person holding them and I do my best to sooth my heart rate and emit a sense of calm control but that is next to impossible when this scream machine is yelling less than a foot from your face... WAHHH WAHHH WAHHH WAHHH WAHHH WAHHH WAHHH ... deep breath ... WAHH WAHHH WAHHH

But as I mentioned above, eventually the crying does stop and shortly after a few minutes of cooing or smiling at her daddy I've forgotten all about that totally crappy meltdown in the not so distant past. I am also thankful that she is not colicky. I have heard stories and I think my complaints are pretty mild compared to many other parents experiences.

My first Father's Day was a wonderful experience. The Friday previous I took my Dad to see Phish in Charlotte and we had a fantastic time. I really wanted him to experience this strange musical phenomena that has consumed so much of my time and money over the last 18 years. I really think he "got it" and seemed to enjoy the music as well as being fascinated by the "lot" culture created by hordes of fans following this group around the country.

I mention this only to express how lucky I feel to have a relationship with my father that makes such experiences possible. We have done so many unique things with one another and I believe as I have grown into an adult and father in my own right we have grown to appreciate our differences and take advantge of our similarities. I hope that by the time Harper is in her mid 30's we will be enjoying a similar type of relationship. Certainly there will be many difficult moments between now and then and no doubt watching a girl mature into a woman will hold different challenges than a boy growing into a man. Still, I hope we will have the sort of relationship as adults that I have with my folks and Amanda has with her parents.

But in truth, all of that is a looong way off and there is no sense in putting any mental effort into something so unpredictable and so far away. I have this beautiful young child that needs me to focus on her right now and teach her and learn from her everyday. Speaking of... she has given me more than enough quiet time to write this blog. Time to attend.