The End of Manternity
My manternity leave has ended. For four months and fifteen days I was a stay-at-home dad to my growing baby girl. Admittedly, I was reluctant to take the leave. I never pictured myself the stay-at-home type.
I watch television, I’ve seen the hapless father montages play across the screen where the father can’t change a diaper and inevitably gets covered in baby powder. I assumed my fate would be the same. But shockingly I was a competent and dare I say good father to my little girl.
Despite my wife’s best explanations, my expectations of the leave were slightly warped. I thought I’d be swimming in free time and made a list of various projects to accomplish. I won’t post the list. It will remind my wife of all the failed projects. But let’s just say the list hovers at a twenty percent completion rate.
Looking after a baby, it turned out, was surprisingly busy work. And it was work. Changing diapers. Cleaning up. Play time. Nap time. Bottle feedings. I was busy and my personal hygiene began to suffer.
In the beginning, I treated the leave like going to the office. I awoke, showered, got dressed, and began the day. That routine soon crumbled under the weight of the leave. Daily showering was the first to go. It became an every other day routine and sometimes a weekly thing.
My wardrobe changed drastically, partly out of self-preservation. Baby spit up is not kind to nice clothes and my official manternity leave outfit became a pair of cargo shorts and a free beer or concert t-shirt.
This paternity leave is brought to you by Budweiser and a band I used to like.
Like most women, my wife’s maternity leave outfit consisted of tank tops and yoga pants. Yoga pants being an article of clothing that sees yoga as much as sweat pants see sweat.
During the leave I rediscovered napping. I was heeding a well-worn piece of advice that we heard again and again. “Sleep when the baby sleeps.” That’s some good advice. My daughter regularly took two naps a day. Some days it was difficult to take both naps. I was usually well rested after one. Napping was great. I’ll never know why the European siesta hasn’t caught on here in North America but I’ll miss naps nearly as much as I’ll miss my daughter. Nearly.
Because I’ll miss my daughter. The time we spent together was wonderful and I don’t regret being a stay-at-home dad. She won’t remember this time. She has no memory. But I think we’ll have formed a deeper bond. She’s just a baby and her personality is just forming but I got to know her. More so than if I saw her in 45-minute intervals before and after work. She’s a great baby. And I’ll remember our time together very fondly as I rejoin the workforce with my new skill set. Surely being able to quickly change diapers and deal with temper tantrums will translate into the workplace.