Admittedly, prior to becoming a father, my only reference to fatherhood was from movies. The flicks I watched frequently depicted the father not understanding his child, always looking to his partner for necessary parental connection.
My stubbornness refused to allow that reference to be my relationship with my daughter, Marley. My wife and I also agreed early on during her pregnancy that we would not “put our lives on hold” just because we have a new human in our family, that we would try our best to “go with the flow” in raising Marley.
So, where did I start?
I started by incorporating Marley into my daily morning schedule. I am a creature of habit, and Marley is a creature of waking up at roughly the same time (5:45 a.m.). Where it would be easy to leave Marley in a playpen, or a crib, or with a hoard of noisy toys, I wore Marley as I took care of my every morning errands.
This meant preparing my wife’s breakfast smoothie, my wife’s iced vanilla latte, brewing two espressos (or coffee) for myself, walking our dog, feeding our dog, and preparing my lunch for work.
I hypothesized that, in my daily “dance” with Marley, she connected with what I found important and necessary.
She also gained the experience of what I set to achieve every morning albeit through sight, sounds, touch, and smells. Seven times out of ten (solid odds for parents), Marley is ready for a nap before I head to work, which is roughly 7:15 a.m.
As a father, I do not possess the biological ability to nurse Marley, so in the beginning of her life I felt like more of a third party to the baby-parent relationship. I found that by frequently wearing her wherever we are, that physical touch to my child allowed me to connect in a similar fashion.
The constant touch and connection to my child allowed me to understand early on when Marley was hungry, tired, or overwhelmed simply by osmosis and observation. Because the truth is, a father initially does not have the physical connection to the child’s birth mother, and can feel left out at times.
My wife and I (but really my wife) used a full baby wrap and sling. I was initially discouraged when I could not achieve the same success of using these carriers, as Marley would frequently be agitated when I used them. It wasn’t until my wife suggested the snap carriers where my Marley wearing days hit a major breakthrough. Once adjusted to your baby’s weight/height, they work like a snap (hashtag dad pun).
Like her father, Marley is incredibly impatient. While my wife can gracefully and quickly wrap Marley in the cloth or sling, I would frequently fumble through it. With a snap style carrier, I am off with Marley in about 30 seconds.
Incorporating Marley into our daily routines, as well as bringing her along in all of our travels, has resulted in Marley adjusting to our schedules…not the other way around. Of course there are always exceptions, and we failed several times along the way. But all those failures and successes allowed us (especially me) to learn more about this beautiful human, and we could always confidently tell her when she gets older that we raised her “by just going with it.”
Photo Credit: Steven Lim
This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.