Paternity Blues

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I always thought that I would be an inspiring life changing person that people will mention my virtues within their gatherings, feel pride that they know me, and novels and films will be made about my life after my demise.

Nearly 30 (not just yet) it seems I am very far off that track.

For 50 days my wife and I waited for our daughter to arrive. We were in foreign country and I had taken time off work waiting for our bundle of joy to arrive. We would spend our days touring but after a while it became repetitive, and movement with a eight and a half month pregnant woman seemed challenging, so we would go to the movies, eat out at times; but otherwise we’d sit around the apartment and I would read. There were at least half a dozen maternity books that my wife had bought, and so out of boredom and out of interest in my new coming child, I read them all.

I knew nearly every trick in the book, or the 6 odd books I read at least, about pregnancy and child care. Whenever my wife would sit amongst her pregnant friends or new mothers (post partom) I found myself engaging in the conversation. I would start every sentence with “the book says.” That lead to me being mocked by my friends and family by asking me, “what does the book say?”

Of course there were people that thought everything written in books about the topic was a waste of time for the writer and the reader since their grandmothers went through a delivery and raising children without reading the book, and the cat delivers without having read a book.

I was as good as a certified midwife and I came to notice that the older generation didn’t find my knowledge impressive or amusing. My parents would laugh awkwardly whenever I would say something remotely related to the topic in public, even if it is general knowledge, an interesting fact, or life saving information. “It’s missing that you start talking about women’s period!” my mother once said in exclamation! “A man cannot talk about such things my son, it is shameful.”

My father is a hardworking man. He dedicates a lot of his time to the company my grandfather started with him in the late ‘60s and the one I work in now. Every afternoon, when work hours are over, he would still mentally retrace the events of the day and plan what is to be done on the next one. He would call me, and often the conversation would playfully start along the lines of: “Where are you?” “Home, playing with my daughter.” “Very nice, men staying home to play with their daughters. What? Does it seem you are not a man?”

A new study has linked fatherhood to lower testosterone levels, so it seems my father’s playful question was in place.

On a redundant Friday afternoon, I was walking in the mall with my daughter on my shoulders. I bumped into an acquaintance who had his son in his arms, and we talked about the weather, work, fatherhood. He asked me how was I sleeping, I said great. He said how come, I gave him a run down on how children associate sleep with several things (milk, mother’s presence, rocking) and the faster they break these associations through the cry down method, the better it is for the babies sleep, and future independence. I recommended him a few books for his wife to read.

Eight months later I bumped into him again in a common friend’s wedding. He introduced me to his wife by “This is the man who changed our life.”

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2 responses »

  1. I find it admirable that you have ditched the stereotypical roles imposed upon you by this patriarchal society and have chosen instead to love your daughter unconditionally and partaking in her upbringing. Beautiful! Lucky gal indeed and enshaAllah she will cherish this forever. Who knows? She might raise her kids to be just like you, then, maybe then, you might get your limelight moment! 🙂

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