The moment I laid eyes on my newly born daughter, my fatherly instincts kicked in high gear. I wanted to protect my little girl from everything remotely dangerous. Suddenly, I noticed she was in a room full of baby boys who were undressing her with their eyes. Actually the nurse was the one doing the undressing but still, these boys were staring through those little slits on their faces. Did I go overboard when I had a “talk” with the parents of these male toddlers? Maybe. Did I get the message through their thick skulls when I threatened to switch their babies’ medical bracelets with the wrong names if they couldn’t keep them in check? Definitely.
Mothers’ roles are well defined: they carry the fetus, give birth, and nurture the baby. Fathers on the other hand, don’t quite know what to do beyond shouldering the hospital bills and praying that their baby comes out with ten fingers and ten toes. Nature did not give us any useful maternal gifts like milk coming out of our breasts. The most we can do is make cooing sounds in an attempt to sooth the crying infant.
As a guy, I have to listen to my feelings to tell me what I should do. So naturally, I have no clue. Incidentally, I happened to read Bill Cosby’s book entitled Fatherhood. His suggestion is just to be there. This sounds perfect because it’s simple to follow and I’m an expert at being there. I’m there when the baby poops and needs her diaper changed. When my wife needs to pump for milk, I’m there to massage her chest, which is titillating since she’s never let me do that before. When a huge mosquito comes into our room, I’m there waiting for it to land on something solid so I can kill it with my bare hands before it bites my baby girl. And when visitors come to the house, I’m there to make sure they don’t have any cough or cold which could be contagious if they don’t wear the proper mask.
I was raised by a single mother, so this “being there” business resonates with me. I just hope that with enough practice, I will be a model father to my family.