With Sarah just 9 days from returning to work as an operating room nurse at UCSF Medical Center, I find myself facing my second go-round as a sometimes solo stay-at-home, self-employed dad. Starting April 5, I'll have 3 days a week holding down the fort myself, and in a way, I'm kinda looking forward to it.
Not that I want Sarah back at work--although the re-appearance of her income will be very welcome. But let's face it, dads are second class citizens at this stage so long as moms are around. When mom's not in the room, though, it's a different story. Suddenly, dad's antics are the focus of baby's attention. In other words, with no udders to distract Max, I figure he and I will bond as never before.
Sarah, conversely, is most definitely not looking forward to her return to the O.R. She and Max have been pretty much inseparable these first 3 months, and it will be no easy task for her to suddenly be away from him for 10-hour stretches (including commute times). I anticipate getting multiple calls each shift those first several weeks, as mom worries whether her baby is safe with dad.
A reasonable worry, as it turns out, as I've had two little accidents that have inflicted pain upon Max. The first was at a birthday party for a set of two-year-old twins, when I managed to scrape the top of Max's head against the door frame while walking out of the kitchen. After a stunned two seconds, Max let out a blood-curdling scream that made me the story of the party. Sarah was NOT a happy camper, but in my own defense, it really was just a mild scrape.
Then, a day or two ago while I was re-dressing Max after a diaper change, I somehow managed to close a snap on his shirt and catch a small piece of skin on his back, causing him to let loose with an even MORE blood-curdling scream. I did my best to soothe him, but let's face it--the damage was done. Now I'll know what's going on 20 years from now when he breaks into a sob whenever he hears me snap my pants.
So, as Sarah's return to work--and subsequent panic over letting the baby out of her sight--approaches, my strategy is to acknowledge that yes, I'm like most dads. There will be accidents--a scrape here, a cut there, a bruise every now and then--but I'll keep the damage to small stuff. I've been parenting and step-parenting for 18 years now, and no one's ever been seriously hurt or emotionally scarred on my watch. I'm sure that's gotta qualify me for some kind of fatherhood lifetime achievement award, no?