By Mihir Joshi
Being a parent is a tough job. A really tough job. For the mommies and for the dads too. I don’t know much about the struggles and troubles that parents who go back to work after a few months face. I’m sure they are really tough and unique in their own way…but right now I want to talk about mothers who decide to take on the incredibly tough job of wanting to raise their child by themselves.
I am not in any way saying that one is better than the other. Mothers have their own decisions to make and they make them with a lot of consideration, I’m sure. But the mothers who chose to stay at home have just as hard a job as the mothers who decide to get back to work after six months.
In my case, my wife is the primary caretaker of my child and as he is growing up I can see the ridiculous amount of hard work that goes into raising him. He’s about nine months now and try as we may, literally no one else apart from her can make him sleep. It takes anywhere from half an hour to 90 minutes to put him to bed at times. He’s still breastfeeding so at night, even when he does sleep, he often wakes up just a bit for a feed. Backaches, body pain, sleepless nights and crazy days are par for the course. All of this is hard but we chose this. She chose this. And I love her so much for it.
That said, sometimes I feel so helpless and inadequate. I want to put him to sleep but at least for now he needs his mommy. And I know that I’m not the only one. I know husbands out there want to help with their babies and sometimes when we can’t do much it is frustrating. Also because of the stress that our wives are going through, they can be moody and annoyed. They ensure that they don’t take out their annoyance on the little one but that means that the husband may get a bit of that unintended anger.
Here’s what I want to say to all the good men out there. Be strong…not just for your baby but more importantly for your wife. Don’t let it bother you if your wife is a little angsty or irritable. It is part of the process. Accept it and be nice to her.
Give her some ‘me time’
You can’t do the feeding and sleeping part. No problem. Make sure you take the baby and give your wife some ‘me time’. Go out for a walk. Play with the baby in a different room. All she needs is a hot bath and maybe some time to remember who she is as a woman…and not just the mommy part of her life.
If your wife is anything like mine, she would love to see a clean room when she emerges from the bedroom after a marathon sleep-putting or feeding session. Do the chores around the house that you should be doing and some that she used to do. Recognise that she’s doing a LOT right now. Don’t leave more stuff for her unless you must.
Yes, she probably planned everything for the house before the baby…but take on those tasks. Getting vegetables, groceries, paying all the bills in time, ordering food or making it and cleaning up the kitchen!
KEEP HER FED AT ALL TIMES!
Sounds funny when I say it. Especially since it is in all caps. But it is true. Breastfeeding mothers get hungry. Give her some food love. Make sure there’s good and ideally healthy food for her to have so that she’s got the energy needed to get back in for another session.
Do fun stuff together
The days are long and there is virtually no change from one day to the next. Figure out a way to make the time you get with her special. It could be something as simple as watching the Game of Thrones episode together when the baby is asleep to arranging a special meal at home. Do fun stuff. You’ve become parents, which doesn’t mean that life has ended. If your baby can be with your parents or loved ones for a while, take her out even if it is just a two-hour date because you have to be back home in time to feed the baby. Make her feel special.
You can feel alone at times and maybe a little helpless at times. Know that you’re not alone. It is okay. Millions of families have gone through this. Figure out a way to make it work for you too. Maybe some of my ideas here will help. Maybe you have some that I don’t know. Let me know in the comments or on social media and I’ll be happy to talk with you about this.
We’re dads! We’ve got this!
(The writer is a singer – his debut album Mumbai Blues won the GIMA Award for Best Rock Album in 2015 – hosts his own talk show-The MJ Show and does live Hindi commentary for WWE. Follow him on twitter @mihirjoshimusic. Views are personal.)