The second week of DJ’s life, I defined my role as a father.
I came home from work at around 6 pm. The house seemed empty but I knew Lisa was home. Her car was there, and she really hadn’t been out much since the birth.
I made my way to the second floor of the house and found my wife vigorously rocking the new kid. DJ was tightly bound in the blanket we’d received from the hospital. She was crying with all of her itty bitty might.
“Why’s she crying?” It was an innocent question.
“I don’t know,” my wife snarled. She’s been like this since you left at 7:30 AM. She stressed the AM.
I thought I knew how to respond, “I’ll take over. I’ll put her to bed.”
That wasn’t what she was looking for.
As both bodies swayed back and forth, a deep voice boomed from my wife’s body, “I am her mother. I will make her sleep.”
Her look frightened me. The thought, she might kill our child tonight, ran through my brain.
Another thought quickly followed, she might also kill me.
Some dads might take charge in a moment like this, demanding that his spouse take a break explaining that perhaps she’d had enough. I, however, slowly backed out of the room, my eyes on her – ready to run if need be.
I went downstairs and put the phone in my hand. I put my thumb on the 9 in the event I needed help.
I then grabbed some peanuts and a beer and turned on the Nightly News.
Sure, I cared. We’d worked too hard over the past ten months not to have the opportunity to try to raise this new addition to our family. Plus, deep down I didn’t really think Lisa would hurt our child. It was at this point, however, that I decided my wife knew more than I did in the parenting department and that she should be the one to lead in this arena.
I would support as directed, and mow the lawn.
It wasn’t until Lisa died that I found out what I had been missing. Instead of just hanging with my kids, I was thrust into full care provider. And that responsibility changed my life.
No longer is work my number one priority. It’s important to me, very important to me; but my girls come first. Period. I now know what they’re doing, and I’m driving them all over town. I didn’t know that chauffeuring was the primary key to garnering information. Toss ‘em in the back seat, and they chirp like little birds.
Oh what I was missing. Oh what I have gained. The depth of my connection with my girls is so much more significant than it ever was before. I wonder how many other parents are missing out because they’re consciously choosing to take a back seat.
Take it from me, the front seat is better.
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