Raising a child is hard work. Doing it with someone makes it less so. That’s why I’d like to talk about fathers and their important participation in parenting.
Neil makes our bed, bathes our baby, buys groceries, prepares lunch, and takes care of our laundry. He also takes out the trash and runs errands like paying the electricity, water and the house (with his hard-earned money). In his free time, he looks after our baby and even gives me a few hours to go where I please or do what I feel like doing. He said it was for my mental health.
I consider myself lucky for having someone like him as a co-parent.
Last Thursday, during our child’s Rotavirus immunization, I saw other fathers holding their babies while their partners browse their phones, go to the restroom,or pay bills at the cashier. I can’t help but wonder how typical it is for Filipino fathers to be supportive of their partners and children. I doubt there’s a research done on this subject since traditionally, working dads are not required to do anything beyond providing for their families.
These days, that doesn’t seem to be the case. It looks like dads would also be happy to stay home like moms, if it’s an option.
Unfortunately, for babies to survive, they need their mom’s milk, unless they’re formula-fed. Ours is breastfed. We both decided it’s the best choice for Cyd. So I stay at home while Neil continues to work.
At first, I thought he had it easy. He goes off to work and I’m left to care for a baby who’s so needy, I just couldn’t get a break. But that has changed because as Cyd grows, he’s started to reward his main caregiver, me, with the sweetest of smiles and the most excited squeal.
That made Neil a bit jealous sometimes. And I get why. He’d love to spend more time with our child, too, but he needs to work to provide for us and see through a project to completion.
After a long day at work, his next shift starts as soon as he gets home. He cooks dinner if I haven’t eaten. He then volunteers to change Cyd’s diaper and help him burp after a feeding while I take a quick shower before I sleep with Cyd.
So What a Stay-At-Home Mom Like Me Can Do to Support a Working Dad Like Neil?
- Look for work opportunities to support him financially or to keep my mind busy. I’d rather be thinking of something productive rather than bother him while he’s working.
- Let him play games or his guitar. Men cope with stress differently. I used to take it personally that Neil prefers to play rather than talk to me, but after living together for more than 5 years, I understood why he needed it. We’re separate people; we should be free to explore hobbies we enjoy.
- Give him the couch for better sleep. If I don’t sleep well, I get cranky. I figure guys do, too. But I have an advantage: I can sleep during daytime. Neil can’t. So I let him sleep outside the bedroom, uninterrupted by Cyd’s early morning cries.
I’m sure there are more ways to support working dads. They might not ask, yet they need it. They would appreciate it.