HUSBAND – Helpful Understanding Simple Brave Amazing Nice Decent
FATHER – Faithful Available Teacher Helps Encourages Reliable
If I had to describe my better half in his role as a husband and father, the above description would be the perfect one.
Photo credit: http://hopejust4u.com
The way I saw my husband the day before I became a mother and the days following the birth of our elder son were strikingly different. What a difference a single day makes sometimes. Before our baby was born, my husband was my better half, my confidante and the person I chose to sleep next to at night for the rest of my life. After the arrival of our first bundle of joy, my husband was still all those things but he was now more importantly my partner in probably the most important job we will ever have; the job of being a parent.
The days that followed the birth of our baby were filled with sleep-deprivation, panic and fear. The joy and contentment I had felt were suddenly overshadowed by a fear of the unknown; a fear of not being able to take care of a tiny human being who was depending on me 100% to survive. But the minute I thought the word ‘me’ inside my head, I realised that I was being selfish. Just because I physically gave birth to the baby did not mean that there was no one else as involved or as important; a small but significant detail that many new moms tend to overlook. I realised that my husband and the father of my baby was as much a part of the baby’s life as I was.
I saw motherhood at its finest the first few weeks – dark circles under my eyes resulting from sporadic sleep at night, one bath a day, hair being washed on average once a week, non-existent make-up and accessories, and so on. The word normal was erased from my vocabulary for a few weeks and it took a lot out of me to get myself together. But I did it. I had an incredible support system and I could not have survived my first few weeks as a new mom without my own mother. She was up every night with me changing diapers and making sure I didn’t fall asleep while nursing. However my rock and the reason for my sanity being remotely intact during the first month was my husband and baby daddy.
A father’s role in the parenting process is often overlooked and sometimes devalued. The mother has always been known as the primary caretaker but in today’s ‘new age’ parenting, the father is as pivotal as the mother. I don’t mean a father’s influence because in the infant and newborn stage, that does not play as big a part in the baby’s development as it does later on. However I am referring to the added responsibilities a father takes on. Gone are the days when only the mother is expected to change diapers and feed the baby. We see more stay-at-home fathers now compared to even a decade ago. They are not only there to shoulder more responsibilities, but also to provide emotional support. I remember a distinct sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach every time by husband had to go to work in the morning leaving me to my duties as a mother. For me, it was not so much the added responsibilities that he took on which made me want to hang on to him, but more the emotional support and mental stability he provided me with. He forced me to paste a smile on my face which at the time seemed to prove most challenging. He proved to be a rock then and even more when our younger son was born in March this year. Now with our younger son having just completed the first 3 months which are more often than not the hardest, I realised that I felt more human this time around due to my husband having taken over most of the responsibilities with our elder son.
Post birth, the process of reconciling your old self with the new is an endless one and sometimes never complete. But it becomes easier with each passing day if you can include the people around you in your journey and not feel the pressure to do everything on your own. That is where my husband played the biggest role – in letting me know that I did not need to have sole custody of the parenting responsibilities. The bravest of mothers who think they can do it all still need help sometimes.
Sometimes you have to just let someone hold your hand.
“A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed, and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society” – Billy Graham