It's day one of week two of the Sarah-Goes-Back-To-Work Non-Experiment, and, from a fathering perspective, it's been wonderful. Don't tell Sarah, but Max is much less fussy and much more in the flow when she's gone. No surprise there--there are no boobies to latch onto, or be tempted to latch onto, or to communicate spiritually to him, calling "Max, over here, two ripe nipples with all the sweet mother's milk you need, and all ya gotta do is cry!"
Nope, it's just him and me, man to, uh, man, mano a mano, tête-à-tête. The showdown at the O.K. Changing Table. But seriously, it's been more like one of those buddy films, only instead of two cops chasing bad guys, it's a bald, middle-aged writer and a drooling, babbling infant prowling the streets of Albany, California. With each day that we spend together, we develop an ever-more comfortable rhythm to our day, which goes something like this:
8 am: Baby wakes up after his typical 10-11 hour sleep, and Mommy nurses while Daddy reads the paper in the "office"
9 am: Daddy has all the intention in the world of getting up and going for a run, but instead just stays in bed with Mommy and Baby.
10 am: Mommy leaves for work
10-11 am: Daddy makes ridiculous faces and even more ridiculous noises as he manipulates Baby's body in ways that clearly please him judging from the onslaught of smiles and spit-up.
11-11:30 am: Baby sits in his little spinny toy, or on his baby chair on the dining table, while Daddy checks email and gets a bit of work done.
11:30: Baby downs a bottle of sweet mother's nectar, then begins rubbing his face, and lays down in his crib and naps until about 1.
1-2 pm: A repeat of 10-11 am, only this time Daddy tries to get lunch eaten during this time because he was too stupid to make himself get that done while Baby was asleep.
2 pm: Baby downs another few ounces of milk, Daddy eats his now-cold leftovers, and then it's time for a walk.
2:30-3:30 pm: Daddy struggles through the neighborhood with a stroller and two crazy terriers (at least when Sarah's dog, who's usually in the custody of her ex-husband, is visiting, which he is now), a tangled mess of wheels and leashes and spit-up devastating all in its path.
3:30-4:30 pm: Baby, who has fallen asleep on way home, naps while dad catches up on some email and starts to think about that dreaded topic--dinner.
4:30-6 pm: This is the most chaotic time of the day, with soccer practices, grocery shopping, and other errands always seeming to pile up.
6 pm: Baby gets tired once again, goes down for another cat nap, sometimes after a bit more milk, sometimes not. Daddy starts assembling the elements of dinner, trying not to make any noise loud enough to wake up Baby.
7:15 pm: Baby, seemingly detecting that mommy's breasts, which are now on the way home, have entered within a 5 mile radius, begins to become hysterical.
7:40: Mommy pulls up, causing a huge sigh of relief in Daddy and a sudden burst of joy in Baby, and all is well with the world.
8:25: After nursing, and just as the rest of us are about to eat, Baby's bowel explodes up his back and down his legs, and Mommy and Daddy finally get to sit down to eat about 8:45, after de-poopifying their hands and arms.
9:30: One final nightcap on the breast, and Baby goes down for the night. Daddy foolishly stays up another 4 hours, only to pay the price with another wonderfully relentless next day.
Really, what it all adds up to is this: Stay-at-home Daddy is the best job in the world. And the boss is simply the best; he can't even dress himself or form a sentence. Who doesn't want a boss like that?