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The Father of a Daughter
|by Siddharth Srivastava|
It is a disadvantage being a father as the mother will always know and do better. I don’t argue the assertion – she creates the child; she bears it for nine months, the bond develops before birth. Is it my fault? I am prepared to be pregnant, if only to save my wife the suffering that can be mentally, if not physically, as difficult for the father. But, say as much as I may, the wife says I am saying it, as it is not possible for me to do what I have offered myself for.
Call it the absence of pre-natal bonding, I found that coming to terms with my baby took me more time than it did my wife. She seemed to trapeze with practiced ease the rounds of nappy changing, potty washing, bathing and more. I haven’t managed bathing without fearing that her tiny body would slip off my palms though she is a year and a half old now. She senses the strength of my grip and wails every time I try and wash her. I call my gawkiness a genetic aberration; my wife calls it a lack of commitment. She is working, so am I, so we spend as much time with the baby; thus there is no room for the common alibi that one partner has the unfair advantage of spending more quality time with her, except before birth when my wife claimed she communed with the being inside. I have tried to think up as many explanations to my incompetence vis-à-vis my wife, try as much as I may.
There is one more reason, apart from the pre-natal one. Don’t mistake me as chauvinistic, but I think I could be a better dad if my baby were a boy. I know as I was a boy once, what a boy wants, see the world through his eyes, a world defined by me in a way that a guy sees --- playing sports, watching porn, proposing to girls, cycling, swimming and climbing hills. I have never seen the world through the eyes of a girl, although there were several girls I loved, but never loved them enough to see things the way they saw it, until my baby came. I ask will she play golf, read Ludlum and listen to hard rock? My wife never does, but could I or should I teach my daughter to do the things I like to do?
I admire my role models, but do I need to study female role models, who may be different? Who would I like my daughter to emulate? Tiger Woods… I am sure she will go her own way and define her own rules; I want to do what my father did, though I never followed what he preached. It is my duty now to see from my baby’s eyes and define and study closely the world of women leaders --- of Thatcher, Rowling, Sarandon and the standards they set.
My wife drowned the arguments.
``Philosophy is okay, but cannot take away from the immediate reality of changing nappies, feeding from the bottle and doing it well,' she said, and was right. I tried hard and without being immodest must say was reasonably okay by my standards only.
She hears the baby cry in the middle of the night before I did, and do. She is up and away from bed much before I do, or to make matters worse I am frequently even slower than my mom-in-law in the next room who had taken temporary abode in our house but is likely to be a permanent fixture as both of us pursue our careers. I am good at several things, playing golf for one, but cannot figure out why my wife is better at this, though looking after a baby is no sport. Yet I compare with golf which is languorous while parenting is not. I went through another period of introspection and arrived at another answer.
I like to delegate, provided the work is done well. I want the best for my daughter, and there is no better nappy changer or potty washer in the world better than my wife. So I have delegated and am happy about it. I discovered this when my wife was away on a business tour. I was fast, faster than ever, never gentler. I think my mother-in-law sensed it, but has kept it to herself as in her eyes only her daughter is number one, which is fair enough, as long as the mother-in-law is not number two, I reasoned.
But the tragedy is, my wife will never know my real prowess, as whenever she is around I sub-consciously delegate. This could be genetic or I wish I had not read too many management books, but I have decided I will never beat my wife, but should at least better my mom-in-law.
She is fast, I am faster, but my wife is the fastest. And that's the way it remains.
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