I can vividly remember hitting rock bottom and feeling completely helpless as a father the month Bryn was born. Bryn was breastfed and at this point getting feedings about every 1.5 to 2 hours. Bryn was racked out in her little side sleeper in the living room. Amanda needed to go take a shower upstairs really quick to get ready to go upstate to see my family. She left me with the baby and I thought, This is my time. This is my shot to suck-in this dad gut and flex these dad guns. When Amanda comes back down, she’s going to see a fuckin’ lion-man, lumberjack, grizzly-hunter that just daddied the shit outta this baby.
About a minute after the shower started flowing, Bryn started to cry. No biggie. I grabbed her and started to rock her like a warrior-father should. Bryn kept crying, now the tears started flowing out of her little eyes. I got this, I thought to myself; she probably needs to be changed. I put Bryn down on a travel changing table on the coffee table and undid her diaper. Nothing, dry as a bone. This is when the seeds of panic started to germinate (for you boninists out there). I tried to keep calm, but truly knew Bryn was hungry and unfortunately babies don’t believe in intermittent fasting. This girl needed milk, and pronto.
I checked the fridge for any pumped breast milk, whaling baby still in hand. Nada. The only milk we had was frozen and needed to be thawed. FUCK. If you’ve ever had to multitask while holding a baby crying at a volume that rivals an EDM concert (which I do not advocate for), cradling the head while using your non-existent third Doctor Octopus arm is tricky. I grab the frozen milk, I’m trying to thaw it out and use my leg to structurally support my daughters freaking body. I’m at my wits end, there is physically nothing I can do for this baby at this time. She needs milk. I can’t give her milk. I want to be the best goddamn father in the world and I can’t even console one baby. I broke, I snapped, I folded.
Amanda burst down the steps, and looked at me crying and visibly pissed. “THERE IS NOTHING I CAN FUCKING DO FOR THIS BABY!” I lost it.
Looking back at this, I tell the Nik trying to be Dad of the Century to grow the hell up. Nothing you can do for this baby? Lighten up Francis.
I learned, the hardest way possible, that there are some things mom can do that dad can’t. It was a humbling experience for me, and the brutal truth I needed. This isn’t just limited to breast feeding. Every dad will experience the feeling of, “my baby loves my wife more than me” or, “how come little Johnny doesn’t cuddle with me like that?” It’s because you, unfortunately, didn’t pass little johnny through a magic portal in your crotch. You, don’t provide 100% of the nutrition your baby needs. Are you going to let factors that you can’t even control keep you from being the hero in your child’s story? Get your ass in there. Get up with your wife when she needs to do those midnight feedings. I’m sure she’s thirsty! She’s probably starving from the hundreds of calories burned from feeding…get a girl a damn grilled cheese! The front lines need to be sustained my friend. The beaches of Normandy wouldn’t have been stormed without the boats and bullets needed to fuck up the Nazi’s.
YOU do the thankless job once in a while. Become that hero in your little daughter or son’s story. Not only will you be fulfilled, you’ll feel important and integral to the process. I’ve found that being dadly is adapting to the situation in order to support and sustain your family. Once you’ve made that adaptation it behooves you to OWN IT! Former Navy Seal turned author and entrepranuer puts it perfectly in one of his publications. “Exercise Extreme Ownership.” Even when the situation seems futile, there is always something that can be done for your family…and they will LOVE you for it!
Do it and own it.