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August 7, 2020 | Rome, Italy

Training Daddy

By | 2018-03-21T18:33:11+01:00 July 1st, 2008|Lifestyle Archive|
I got used to having a partner in this parenting thing… and I liked it.
D

isclaimer: This is not a male-bashing platform. However, men and women are wired quite differently. Let’s just say I’m merely noting integral differences that exist between the sexes. That said, I want to point out that I love my husband. A lot.

But… after months of doing 95 percent of the work a new baby requires I was getting fed up. So I called my sister to complain.

And complain I did.

“Oh, I’m so glad to know that even a great guy like Marco is an idiot when it comes to parenting.”

“Huh?” I asked confused.

“What you are experiencing is completely normal.”

If I had a dime for every time someone had told me something unpleasant in pregnancy or parenthood was “normal,” I’d be loaded.

“I would just like him to do another 10 percent. I’ll do 85 percent and he can do 15… but I don’t want to have to ask him, ‘Marco would you like to bathe your son?'”

“So you don’t ask,” my sister concluded. “And you do it your self because it’s just easier.”

“Right.” I said.

Wrong!” the mother of four countered. “You have to ask and then he’ll start to see what it takes to be a father. You have to train him.”

The next evening as I was feeding the baby (pureed veggies I had jarred myself) with one hand and stirring a risotto with radicchio, pumpkin and speck with the other, Marco came home from work. He greeted us both with a big smile and kisses. He complimented me on the risotto and remarked how bravo his son was for eating his dinner with such vim and vigor. Then he started in on his nightly, “Ma quanto è bello!” followed by his legendary “Quanto lo amo?” Isn’t he beautiful!? How much do I love him!?

I wanted to snap, “If he is that beautiful and you love him that much… would you like to give him a bath or change his diaper?” But I didn’t snap. Instead, I thought about what my sister said and asked nicely, “Can you give him a bath?”

Certo.” Marco said with a smile.

“And when he is ready to get out, can you not call me to get his towel? Instead can you get the towel, the diaper and the pajamas ready, so that I do not have to sweep in and assist.”

“Okay.”

I was beginning to train the daddy in the house and it was going well.

Marco not only followed orders to the ‘t,’ he also enjoyed the time he was spending with his offspring. After a few short days, I felt so good about his progress that I decided to make plans with a girlfriend for Saturday morning. I was looking forward to three hours of independent “alone time.”

As I stood basting a pork loin on Friday evening, I heard Marco chiacchierando on the phone. Then, I heard him say, “No problem. See you in the morning.”

I became incensed. “Why did you say ‘see you in the morning?'” I barked.

“Because I have to go to the marina in the morning.”

He had forgotten about my plans.

I kirked out. “Great!” I ranted. “Do you want to take the baby to the marina?” He would now beg me to stay home. I was certain.

Instead he said “Yes!” leaned in to hug me and then said, “Thank you!”

I pulled away, “Are you being sarcastic?”

“No, no. I wanna take him, for me it’s a pleasure.”

My anger took a back seat to the shame I was now feeling. Marco had made an honest mistake and now he honestly wanted to take his son to see his boat. It was official: I was an idiot.

That night I lay in bed and thought, “This is good, Tomorrow Marco will also get to see how challenging it is to stay with a baby all day.”

The next morning, I zoomed around getting the baby ready for his daddy day out. I packed his diaper bag complete with all the necessary goods. He was leaving for four hours and had luggage!

I sent off my two men — the tall one and the small one — and went on my way. While I was enjoying my freedom, I still felt a little nervous and a bit guilty. Nervous because Marco had never taken the baby outside of the apartment. What if he cries? What if he wants to nurse? And guilty because I was out doing something fun that was totally unrelated to motherhood or the baby.

After the initial emotions subsided, I had a great day. When I returned home, I found the place still empty. I called Marco.

“Where are you?”

“Still at the Marina.”

“How is he?”

“Great! We are having a wonderful time. He is such a good boy we were playing with…”

I didn’t let him finish, “… Well, you should come home soon. It’s getting late.”

They were having a grand time without me and I was… jealous? Yes, jealous. In the last 18 hours I’d run a gamut of emotions equivalent to an Oscar award-winning actress. Maybe I was hormonal or maybe these were normal reactions to the inevitable separation between mother and child.

They returned an hour later and both were smiling.

I asked specific questions: “Did he eat? How much? And when?”

“Did he sleep? For how long?”

Marco gave specific answers. He was good. I was impressed.

“It’s not easy, is it?” I said.

“Actually it was. He is great.”

Yet another emotion reared it’s ugly head: fury.

Of course it was easy for him — I made it easy. I gave him instructions, packed the bag and dressed the critter. Next time, I wouldn’t be so helpful.

But the next time came, and Marco did do more. And the time after that even more. And I got used to having a partner in this parenting thing… and I liked it. And he liked it. I wasn’t angry or ashamed or jealous. Just happy. And now, the hormones have leveled off and I feel fortunate that my baby’s father actually enjoys being his father. I trained him well.

About the Author:

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Kissy Dugan's "Parenthood" column ran from 2007 through 2016.

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