Monday, October 03, 2005

My Husband and His Baby

Let's face it. Women are not born knowing everything about how to take care of a baby either. We often assume that Mom will know exactly what to do, leaving Dad floundering to figure out how to change a diaper while Mom is laughing in the corner. There are baby classes for Dad, commercials convincing Dad he can do it, and continued amazement from friends and strangers alike when Dad is taking care of the little one.

Those cultural sentiments offend my husband. And well they should. He participates fully in our son's life and has since we were in the hospital together. Brian changes Jayden's diapers. He feeds him. He bathes him. He plays with him. And I cry.

I have cried watching my husband with our baby because I know that Jayden is one of the lucky children who not only has a Daddy who is there everyday but who is tuned in everyday. Brian doesn't go to work and forget about us. He comes home for lunch so that he can see Jayden for a few minutes during the day.

The simplest part of their relationship - play - is the most fascinating. Brian has told our little baby that his giant Care Bears are sentinels who guard Jayden's toy box when he is not supposed to be in it. At eight months old, Jayden is far too young to understand what a sentinel is or even that there are rules in our house, but that doesn't stop him from attacking the sentinels with a vengeance.

When it is time to open the toy box, Jayden and Brian get the sentinels down and go to battle. Brian holds the sentinels while his baby bites their noses (okay, gums their noses) and legs. Jayden scratches their bellies where their Care Bear charms are and laughs. He laughs so hard that he loses his breath, and his dad is right there with him - laughing hysterically and celebrating their victory.

When Jayden expressed an early interest in banging on Mommy's keyboard while she typed, Brian pulled out a spare keyboard (yes, we have spare computer parts lying around) and fixed it to make it baby proof. Then he gave it to Jayden to use as his own. Brian, a software programmer, beams that his baby son is interested.

Watching these moments between my husband and our baby make me understand a father's love and help me to know that indeed it can be - and is for my husband and his baby - every bit as strong as my own bond with either of them.

Brian takes care of Jayden as deftly as I do. He picks him up at night when he is crying and soothes him. Brian certainly has changed his share of baby diapers and outfits (although he is complaining all the while about the smell of the former and the laundry pile of the latter).

Brian's job as Jayden's Daddy is to help him grow into a man every bit as extraordinary as his father. If he completes half the job, he will have done the world a service.

By Brandi Rhoades

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