I was sitting in my boss’s office one afternoon, sometime before my son turned one, just chatting about kids and work and family when my boss said, “One thing I always hated was when my wife would hand me a kid the second I stepped through the door at night. Like I didn’t just work 8 to 10 hours. Like I didn’t need to take a little break too, you know?”
“Ok,” I said, measuring my words. He’s a cool dude, but he is still my boss. “Let me ask you this: How many times did you go to the bathroom by yourself on a day like that? Three or four? Maybe more if you had a lot of coffee? You know how many times she went to the bathroom by herself? Zero. And those are the times when she really couldn’t hold it. And she didn’t sit down and relax and let her body do what it needed to do for a couple minutes. Oh no. She did what she had to do as fast as she could. That’s what being home with a baby is.”
He gave me a “Yeah, I guess,” and changed the subject but it was something I was thinking about again today.
My son is no longer a baby which means I am not longer insane and I’m starting to see that whole period of my life a little more clearly now. Pregnancy and postpartum hormones are a bitch, ya’ll and I’m pretty psyched to be living in the age of Let’s Be Honest About This Bullshit Thing Called Motherhood because it means that I have proof–article after article of proof–that I am not alone in thinking about some of this nonsense.
I don’t know many mothers who haven’t had a dark period right after their child was born. Now I’m extra paranoid to begin with so my dark period just exacerbated that aspect of my personality to the point where everything was a threat to either my baby’s existence or to my own sanity. I had to stop watching some of my favorite TV shows because they were too real, maaan, just too real. They filled me with nightmares (when I got to sleep) and made me think they’d turn my baby into a devil child. I didn’t go out unless accompanied by another adult, I didn’t read anything I wasn’t already familiar with and I stayed the holy hell away from Facebook because so much evil lurks there.
So here I am thinking about this handing the baby to the dad when he gets home from work thing and besides the obvious–like, maybe she just wanted to put her whole butt on the toilet seat to pee for the first time all day–maybe my boss’s wife needed a break from the constant fear that she was going to hurt or emotionally scar or accidentally kill her child? I mean, that’s one of the reasons I handed the kid off to my husband or mother or mother-in-law and ran immediately to the bathroom during those first 3 to 5 months. I wanted to know he was safe but that it wasn’t exclusively my job to keep him that way, at least for 5 minutes. I just wanted to put my whole butt on the toilet seat and not have to jump back up if something went wrong. You know?
So to all the dads of newborns who just need to take a little break after they get out of work, let me tell you this: Your drive home was your break. Every visit you took to the bathroom was a break. Wherever and however you ate lunch, if it wasn’t in the presence of an infant, it was a break. Depending on your job, your whole goddamn day could have been a break compared to what your wife went through. Just hold the freaking baby and let the woman put her whole butt on the toilet seat. Just give her that, man. At least.