Christine Sweeney, LICSW Program Manager, Parent Connection, BIDMC
JUNE 13, 2019
Sunday is Father's Day, and an opportunity to celebrate and acknowledge all the dads in our lives. During one of our new mom's groups this week, someone asked if anyone had a creative idea for a father's day gift. Many responded that they were putting together photo albums or a picture collage; others making cards with handprints of their baby, all beautiful and thoughtful ideas.
Something to consider perhaps, is asking dad if he'd like some guilt-free alone time. Whether you have one baby at home or more than one child, if you are a parent, time alone is a rare commodity. While we vary in the amount of time needed, most of us find that having the opportunity whether it's to meditate in silence, to go for a solo run, or to hang with some friends, that time is really useful to recharge the batteries.
While each parent may want a break from the constant demands of newborn family life, actually taking the time often is fraught with guilt or subtle/not-so-subtle resentment from partner, and that's understandable. The demand of time and energy required of raising babies and young children is significant, especially when you add in work outside the home. There doesn't leave a whole lot of wiggle room for "me time!"
On Father's Day, you may choose to spend the day as a family doing something fun and enjoying the day together, and that's great, but recognizing and supporting your partner's need to reconnect and enjoy the things he liked to do before he became a dad is a good thing to keep in mind, or at least ask him about how he's doing and what he needs.
As moms we often turn to other women to discuss how motherhood has changed us in ways we never could have imagined. These connections enrich and nourish us. My sense is that these are not typical conversations dads have with other dads, and yet, when I have had opportunities to ask about their experiences, dads have a lot to say, and are eager to engage.
So Happy Father's Day to all you awesome dads out there, especially the new dads with a baby at home. Hang in there! You may be tired beyond exhausted, but at some point you will sleep again in more than two-hour increments. Your life may never be the same, but it's okay, you will come to a new normal and someday when your baby looks you in the eye and gives a belly laugh it will be the best feeling in the world. You're Dad, and You Rock! Happy Father's Day.