I Envied His Thirty-Two-Inch Pants
During the first month or two with a new baby, it’s easy for a new mother to bench her husband from the game. I certainly did. To some extent, it’s perfectly natural. I had given birth to Paul, I was solely responsible for feeding him, and I just couldn’t seem to tear myself away from memorizing every inch of him. I was so exhausted that, frankly, getting through that first month was more about surviving than thriving. Every day that ended without starvation or blood was a success. Jason became a decoration, albeit a handsome one. It’s possible (likely?) that I even yelled at him a few times during Paul’s infancy. I may have even tested him by leaving a newspaper in the driveway just to see how long it would take him to pick it up and throw it into the recycle bin. Several days later, I gave up and threw it away myself. I spent a few days silently, pointlessly seething over that one.
When I confessed this to a friend a few months later, she admitted that she’d done the same experiment with the same result using a stack of folded laundry left out in the hall.
I envied Jason’s quiet drive to work, his thirty-two-inch pants, and the fact that he didn’t have to time his trips to the bathroom to accommodate someone else’s eating habits. I somehow managed to ignore the fact that Paul was a product of the two of us, that Jason had become a father the very same moment that I became a mother.
As it turns out, I spent too much time underestimating Jason. I was wary of letting him take over a nighttime feeding, though I desperately needed a break. I was nervous about leaving Paul alone with Jason, though I knew a solo trip to the mall or even the grocery store would do me some good. I had devoted more time than he to learning the truth behind Paul’s various cries. When I finally did give in and went out to watch a movie on my own, I must have called Jason every ten minutes. I left instructions that covered every possible permutation of any number of possible catastrophes. I emphasized and reemphasized the importance of getting him down for a nap before he became overtired. I described the rocking rhythm that I used to get Paul to sleep. All that instruction, and you know what happened? I came home from the movie to find Paul and Jason sleeping soundly next to one another in our bed.
The truth is that Jason and I were both new initiates in the parenting club, and I needed to give him some time to get over the learning curve and to come up with his own methods for soothing and entertaining and loving Paul. When I finally gave in, I realized that giving Jason some time with our son left me refreshed and renewed. Finding them curled up to one another left me remembering why I chose Jason in the first place. Every parent deserves a partner, and I had to give Jason the chance to be mine.