Brand new dads are often overlooked for their hard work and their lack of sleep because, let's face it, women do ALL of the work for the first 9 months so that counts for SOMETHING once baby is here... right?!
When I work with new parents, I reflect on our days as a brand new, glowing, covered-in-puke Mama, and a brand new change-my-shirt-every-time-there's-drool-on-me Dad. When new parents walk into the room excited about baby's first shoot, I take a moment to gauge how they are BOTH feeling, because, let's face it. We always check in with the new Mama, but how often do we ask Dad how he is doing and really take the time to listen?
When you think "new dad" it's often:
New Dads hate changing diapers.
New dads don't have a clue.
New Dads don't HAVE to be a 24/7 food source.
Hold up. Rewind. Let's do that again.
First of all, huge FYI here, NOBODY likes diapers!
Secondly, parents in general don't have a clue, that means us Moms as well. We have this vision of rocking babe to sleep at night as he coos up at us smiling. Instead we're covered in poo that has leaked from his diaper as he screams for an hour just because he can. We say we've got this. Piece of cake. We think we do and then BAM! Baby has rolled off the changing table, sucks her thumb, likes formula, can't read by her first birthday and the internet says she has 7 different diseases!
Deep breath. Read onward.
Let's go back to the fact that new dads have it so easy. Moms get up every 2 hours to nurse and men get to sleep through it all! UGH if only I could have 8 hours of sleep like him! But wait. What about in the wee hours of the morning, babe is staring up at you, and that milk-drool smile followed by a milk coma is enough to make time stand still. And that moment of rocking peacefully back to sleep? That has finally arrived. You wouldn't trade that moment for the world right?
Now remember how Dad was fast asleep during that?
Do you still want to trade places?
If Dad is getting more sleep, Mom is probably getting more smiles.
So next time Dad looks exhausted remember it may have been his turn for Midnight grins. It may have been his turn to work an overnight shift at his job so Mom doesn't have to go back to work after her 3 week of paid maternity leave are over. Remember Dad is human and yes, this new human in his house is hard for him too.
We're all in this together. We're all getting peed on, puked on and pooped on. I'd like to say that ends in the toddler years, but so far, nope! At the end of most days and long into the night someone is frustrated or crying and that doesn't even include the baby. I'm here to remind you BOTH that you are doing a great job. You are rockin' the socks off this parenting job (even if that means you literally can't find baby's socks). Be proud of every shirt stain, every night you weren't the one crying, and every morning you wake up exhausted knowing you get to do it all over again.
That, in the least, should make you smile.