I am a full-time daddy in a mommy’s world. I have changed poopy diapers, pureed food, taught the alphabet, mediated playground disputes, kissed booboos, wiped boogers – you name it. I even take pride in the fact that my daughter thinks I braid her hair better than mommy.
But at the end of the day, daddy’s not mommy. Sometimes I must simply accept my backup quarterback status. No daddy – even the most obsessively dedicated full-time daddy – can replace mommy.
You doubt me? Here’s a little table for you:
Having trouble interpreting the data? Let me help.
Researcher’s best guess at average time for the man’s initial contribution is about six minutes (No, not the ten-minute average we men actually report).
Mommy, meantime, gets a nine-month home-field bonding time advantage over dad out of the gate. And that time is intimate in a way that makes even baby-making sex seem more casual than a weekend in Amsterdam.
Your Child’s first and most secure world is mommy’s body. In that first world your child hears what mommy hears. Eats what mommy eats. Goes where mommy goes. The first time your baby opens its eyes, hiccups, kicks, stretches, yawns, it will be inside mommy. Your baby will start learning its native language while inside mommy. Your baby even will experience a wide range of human emotions before they are ever born, and all these feelings – anger, fear, affection, excitement, aggression – are intimately connected to what mommy feels and experiences.
What does this all mean? My dog can tell you.
We have an 85 pound American bulldog, Sammi, a lovely, gentle dog that unabashedly loves our child. But our over-sized cuddle dog also has a huge head, neck and, chest and massive jaws. Sammi is more than capable of chomping a cat and is always eager to do so. A few weeks ago, my wife was out walking Sammi when they passed a driveway where a smallish mamma cat was sitting, protectively wrapped around her kitten. Mamma cat arched, hissed, and launched herself at Sammi. In fact, mamma cat chased Sammi off of the property and down the street. Our big, ferocious dog returned home, where I applied with peroxide and antiseptic cream for half a dozen scratches and punctures.
I tried to explain to Sammi what I’ve learned; sometimes you can’t compete with mommy and should not try.
There is a bond between mommy and child that you will neither emulate or understand. There will be times when your child wants mommy or needs mommy. Even if you are with your child all day, every day. Even if you are the go-to guy for skinned knees, Easter egg coloring, and complicated toy assembly.
Here’s an illustration for those who did not understand the table:
As a full-time daddy, I try to be smarter than my dog. I advise other daddies to do the same.
Even if you are with your kid all day, most days, give mamma room to be mamma. Let her do some things her way. Let her mess with your carefully constructed routines. Let her have some uninterrupted time with that kid she lugged around in her belly after your six minutes of glory.
If you’re not smart enough to do that, better keep some antiseptic handy.