Cogito Patris

Random Thoughts for Random People

The Journey from Fatherhood to Daddyhood

I didn’t become a daddy over night.  Before Melody was born I took a refresher course at the local hospital called Daddy Boot Camp.  It was designed to help new Fathers become more comfortable with the process of child rearing.  Although being a second time father I was a little out of place.  However, I did find the experience helpful (if only so that I could pass on some of my own experiences).  One of the things I took away from the class was the difference between being a Daddy and being a Father.

This is another example of the subtlety of the English language.  The two words are nearly identical as far as a definition:

 Father – 1. a male parent.  2. any male ancestor, esp. the founder of a race, family, or line; progenitor.  3. a man who exercises paternal care over other persons; paternal protector or provider

 Daddy – an informal term for a father; probably derived from baby talk

But the difference is actually much greater.  To be a father you simply need to be the male contributor to a fetus.  But being a daddy takes much more work.  A daddy is there for diaper changes and play times, story telling and sick times, baseball games and homework.

One thing that I also heard during the Daddy Boot Camp is that a father usually feels connected to a baby after the first ultra sound.  In my case, not so much.  In fact, it took approximately 16 months for me to transform from Father to Daddy.

Because I like to tell stories, I want to share this story with the world.

Dante was born 2 days after his due date.  The labor was difficult on my bride.  18 hours of contractions culminating in two hours of pushing.  Dante had wrapped the umbilical cord around his neck twice. He was pale when he entered this world and took way too long to start to cry.  To say the least, that was scary.

He spent two days in the NICU for safety concerns, but he was healthy despite his awkward entry in to this world.

To tell you the truth, I wasn’t sure I was ready for all of this, and the difficult delivery didn’t help matters.  My wife was discharged a day before Dante was discharged.  On that day I took her to see the first of the Spiderman movies.  Looking back on it, this was the first of many subtly selfish things that I did regarding my responsibilities as a daddy.

Dante was not an easy child in his first year and a half of life.  My wife and I didn’t get a full night sleep for the first year of his life because of colic and what we later found out to be an allergic reaction to oats.  I spent many nights up with him, enjoying those few minutes when he slept and fearing his waking cries (if he made it 45 minutes we counted our blessings).  We split the night in half.  I took the first shift which was 8:00 PM to 2:00 AM.  Then my wife took from 2:00 AM on.  Although my bride didn’t much like this arrangement, I think it may have saved our sanity.  We at least knew we would get some “uninterrupted” sleep every night.

But I didn’t handle this time particularly well.  When you are sleep deprived and facing a screaming child there are two irrational things that enter your consciousness.  First, I thought the crying would NEVER stop.  Although there are few 30 year olds who scream though the night, I was still worried that my child would be the exception.  The second is anger.  Although the child wasn’t doing anything to me intentionally, I became extremely angry with him on a nightly basis.  And on many occasions would cry myself to sleep.

When Dante was six months old we moved to Charlotte.  New city, but the same old nightly process.  He did slowly get better as we got him on a formula made for Colic (Nutramagin) and discovered his allergies.  He still didn’t routinely sleep though the night until he was well over a year old.  In fact, we had to sleep train him…trying to ignore his screams in the middle of the night hoping he would sooth himself…which he finally did.

When Dante was 16 months old my wife did what she had to do.  She went to work.  Doesn’t sound so bad, especially since she never stopped working, but this was different.  You see, she is a full time telecommuter.  She was called up and had to come up to DC for a training course she was to lead in her office.  I was going to be left alone with Dante for 4 days.

Up to this point I had never had to take care of Dante alone for more than a few hours.  To say I was concerned would be an understatement.  I was scared out of my mind!
But that week Dante pretty much slept though the night every night (we were still having the occasional night terror).  He was in day care while I was at work.  And at night we went to Hooters for dinner (I have never gotten such good service), I gave him a bath, played with him, we giggled a lot and I put him to bed.

After that week I was finally bonded with him.  I was finally Daddy and he was my son, rather than just an attachment I had to take care of.  I still have those irrational emotional responses to Melody, but this time, I KNOW it won’t last forever, because I have been through it before.

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July 20, 2007 - Posted by | The Kids

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