I didn’t want to go back to work after the birth of my son. I wanted to stay home with him with all my heart, but unfortunately my husband and I couldn’t afford it. My husband had just graduated from college, but hadn’t found better employment, leaving me as the primary breadwinner. I didn’t actually mind the whole ‘working’ part, but I couldn’t imagine leaving my son everyday. At 4 months old, we were just starting to get a routine down, and his personality was starting to emerge (other than newborn baby).
The day I went back to work was the start of my husband’s 2 week break between fall and winter semester (he worked as a student at a school), which meant Ethan would get 2 more weeks at home with a primary caregiver. This was great news that dad would get to spend some one on one time with our son, but I was still devastated that it wouldn’t be me.
Never the less, the first day, I dutifully got dressed, loaded up my breast pump, and headed out the door. I even managed to make it to my car before I started crying.
My husband loves our son, but during my maternity leave I was very much the primary caregiver, even when my husband was home. At the time, my husband was a full time student, worked 20 hours per work, was team lead on a group project, and was volunteering his time for community development through coding. Which left him with very little time for the family. Of course, I don’t blame him. He would come home exhausted late at night, and have to be back up to do it all again in as little as 6 hours. This of course, left me as the primary parent both when my husband was home and when he wasn’t. This resulted in me being the favorite parent (although arguably this might have happened anyways, since I have the milk, but him being away so much didn’t help).
On my first lunch break, I rushed back home, expecting Michael to be frustrated, and Ethan screaming because he was overly tired. Not so. Not even close. Ethan was happily sitting in his daddy’s lap with a toy while my husband was playing a game. I took Ethan and started to nurse him, and about 5 minutes later my husband brought me lunch. I was very surprised.
This continued on for 2 weeks. Soon my husband was able to distinguish some of Ethan’s cries that I hadn’t even been able to.
Being alone with the baby allowed my husband to tune in to Ethan’s cues and really listen. How often, do we as moms immediately jump in when dad has never does something before or us ‘doing it wrong’? This creates a pattern and discourages dads from even trying. Without me there to ‘correct’ him, my husband was able to explore and discover his way of parenting. That time alone was truly special and helped to bond the two together.
By going back to work, I allowed them to have this one on one time together, which really helped boost my husband’s confidence in care giving that has lasted to this day. And that was totally worth it.
I found the same thing happened when I returned to work after the birth of my first child. I would do afternoon shifts so I wouldn’t get home until 1030-11pm. My husband had to pick up our son from daycare, make him dinner and do the whole night time routine. He struggled a little at first, but quickly found his feet.