Confessions of a “Stay at Home Dad”

Having just returned to work after two weeks of being a full time ‘Stay At Home Dad’, it felt like the natural time to post a blog or at least write something to mark this time that i was able to take off to spend with my daughter Amélie.   My wife had been offered a new,month long contract that would give her some freedom as a ‘Working Mum’ for a while and also earn us some more income.  We knew it would be difficult for both of us because it would mean a politely worded request to my boss for time off and also would mean time away from the family home for my wife, not to mention the fact that little Amélie would be missing her Mother every day.

Amélie’s busy little social life kept us both busy during this time, she has so many classes that she goes to: Bounce & Rhyme, Mama Luna (Spanish singing and dance), and a couple of different toddler’s groups.   We managed to get along to most of these classes and it was great for me to finally see how she interacts in these group settings and the person she is becoming, not just with family and with her parents but with her new friends and other small children.   She is a very social person and likes to entertain, so it was good to see this in public.   My intention was to head to places we had never been and to let her experience large open spaces, we had an unexpected fortnight of sunny and dry weather so I wanted to take advantage of this.   We had rides on buses over to see a farm, ferry rides over to the other side of the river, and walks in the park.   It was great fun and it was a fantastic way to spend a couple of weeks off.

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The daily routine things i only get to experience on a weekend were now the main focus of my day, I would feed her, change her, clean her, feed her again, get her to nap, wake her up, change her, feed her again, play with her, sing to her, and get her to sleep.   All these things that my fantastic wife does every day was now my role – and as difficult as it was, it was the most rewarding role i have ever had.

During the first week, I had the unfortunate job of taking her to have her set of immunisations.   This was a really low point for me and as we trudged up the hill towards the health clinic I could feel the nerves creep in, not into Amélie, but into her father, in full knowledge of what was about to come.   We entered the room, lit as you would expect with strip lighting, and smelling of chemicals and leather.   Amélie sat with her father cradling her in his arms whilst the needle punctured her leg three times.   It was a loud cry, but after some playing and chasing her around the waiting room on the way out, it was almost forgotten.  Well, for her at least.  I’ll remember it forever.

One of my favourite times with Amélie is first thing in the morning, she greets each day as one brand new adventure.   Opening the curtains in her room you can just see the excitement in her eyes as she looks through the blinds into the garden, just wondering what today will hold.   Its an excitement I think any adult would love to have again – imagine looking out of the window at snow for the very first time, or feeling the sunshine on your face for the first time.    My second favourite is putting her to bed, just feeling her fall asleep in your arms, safe and warm, drifting off into a sleep full of the dreams and thoughts from the day and nothing to worry about, not a care.  Its beautiful.

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So, now back at work and the mornings are now taken up with getting Amélie up, fed and ready for her Nana to pick her up to look after her for the next two weeks.   Its so sad hearing her cry and shout ‘Dad’ and I fasten her into the car seat and they drive off.  The first morning I could barely speak for fear that the sadness in my voice would be too much.    It seems completely mad, but i think i feel this way because I have no idea when or if i’ll ever get two weeks alone with my daughter again.   Having time with my wife and daughter is somehow different, in a way that i can’t explain.    I’ve always thought that the bond between and mother and child is stronger, and in my opinion it fully has the right to be, after all its the mother that carries the baby for nine months in her own body).  But I think its important as a father, its important to try to make this bond between father and child as strong as possible to be as close as possible and to be a positive example of a male in her life.