Back to work.
Halfway through my manternity leave I decided to go back to work for a visit with my daughter. To show her where daddy would normally be if he wasn’t at home changing diapers and being spit up on. It was also a chance to show my coworkers how much of an enlightened man I was. To say, “look at me, I can easily transfer my skills to parenthood and effortlessly raise my daughter.”
Somehow that didn’t happen.
My daughter has a very rigid nap schedule. Somehow my visit to the office coincided with her afternoon nap. As in, she was missing it. It was an unfortunate parenting oversight. What made it even more unfortunate was that it was coupled with the fact that she was teething.
That’s some simple parenting math. Teething baby plus missing a nap equals crying baby.
That being said it was nice to see many of my coworkers and introduce them to my daughter. And in the beginning my daughter was in a pleasant mood. She cooed. She smiled. She needed a diaper change.
I quickly found an empty meeting room and put my diaper bag to work. If you’re one of my coworkers you’re probably wondering which meeting room I used. It doesn’t matter. The diaper was only wet, and I’m a pro. The table was left in the same state it was found. And I am sure that worse things have happened on those tables. Like timesheet meetings.
The presence of a baby in the office had an interesting effect. It drew many people out of their offices to see, especially women. Bringing a baby to work is like bringing a new engagement ring to work. Women flock to it, they ‘ooh’, they ‘ahh’, they want to hold it, and often talk about when they’re going to get one.
Many coworkers asked to hold my daughter, I obliged. They quickly gave her back to me once she began to cry. And cry she did. Crying isn’t something you normally hear in an office environment unless it’s Christmas bonus time during a recession or an inter-office romance going sour mid-client meeting.
The presence of an inconsolable crying baby really undermines your assurances that your leave is going well. That you enjoy your time off with your daughter and that it’s really not that difficult. People see a crying baby and give you the “wow, I’m glad I’m not him” look. Especially the ones without children, I knew they were leaving our conversation with the satisfaction that they could return to their childless lofts and enjoy uninterrupted sleep. Or go out and party all night or see a movie or do whatever it is single people do these days.
Another coworker, a mother, recognized the wails of my daughter and matter-of-factly said, “That sounds like a baby who needs her nap.” She was right. I had hoped to showcase the relative ease of being a new parent to the office. I had instead showcased the reality. It was time to heed my coworker’s advice and take my crying bundle of reality home.
from → Daddy Disasters